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The Best U.S. Cities for Supporting Local Farmers

The Best U.S. Cities for Supporting Local Farmers

If you were to say that farmers are among the most important individuals in the country, you wouldn’t get an argument from us. According to the USDA, in 2021, exports of U.S. farm and food products totaled $177 billion and Net Farm Income was forecast to reach $123.4 billion. That’s an increase of roughly 20% from 2020. Additionally, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, each individual American farmer produces food for 165 people every year, both in the U.S. and abroad. To put it simply, farmers are the backbone of this country, and local farmers are the backbones of their respective communities.

At Verdesian, we know just how important local farmers are to their surrounding cities, and how deserving they are of both our admiration and support. Every time you take a trip to find fresh produce from a farmer’s market or enjoy a farm-to-table meal, you can thank your local farmers for making it possible. To celebrate these unsung heroes and the communities they serve, we set out to find the U.S. cities best equipped to support their local farmers.

Methodology

We collected data in March 2022 on the 100 largest U.S. cities based on population size for factors that would affect a city’s ability to support local farmers. We included factors related to the number of farms and farm products in each city as well as weather factors that can affect local farmers throughout the year.

Factors:

    • Number of Nearby Farms 
      • Weight: 1.5 
    • Walk Score
      • Weight: 0.5 
    • Number of Farmers Markets
      • Weight: 1.25 
      • Source: Yellow Pages
    • Farm to Table Restaurants Search Volume
      • Weight: 0.75 
      • Source: Google Trends
    • Number of Community-Supported Agriculture Farms/Networks
      • Weight: 1.25 
    • Number of U-Pick Farms 
      • Weight: 1.25 
      • Source: Yelp
    • Number of Farmers Markets That Accept Credit Cards 
      • Weight: 0.75 
    • Number of Organic Farmers Markets 
      • Weight: 0.75 
    • Average High Temperature (2021)
      • Weight: 0.5 
    • Average Precipitation (In Inches – 2021) 
      • Weight 0.5 
    • Number of Natural Disasters (Since 1953)
      • Weight: 0.5 
    • Air Quality by State 
      • Weight: 0.5 

We assigned cities with a score of 0-5 for each factor, with a score of 5 representing the most favorable conditions for that factor. We determined each city’s total score from the sum of its individual factor scores, which were weighted according to how big of an impact they have when it comes to supporting local farmers. Individual factor scores were then added together to give each city a final score from 0-50. Higher scores indicated cities are better for supporting local farmers. Read on to see where your city ranks.

The 20 Best U.S. Cities for Supporting Local Farmers

A U.S. map plotting out the 20 best cities for supporting local farmers.

We want to start by saying there are no bad cities when it comes to supporting your local farmers; some cities just happen to be better suited for supporting your local farming community than others. That being said, there’s an interesting regional trend that is hard to miss. Cities in east coast states like New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida are much better equipped to support local farmers than their west coast counterparts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Let’s take a closer look at what might be causing this regional discrepancy.

The first thing we noticed was that the cities at the top of our ranking, like Poughkeepsie, NY (the best city to support local farmers), Allentown, PA (4th), and Bridgeport, CT (5th), have a significantly larger number of nearby farms, farmers markets, and u-pick farms than other cities in our study. On the southern side of the east coast, the Florida cities in our top-ten of Lakeland, Daytona, and North Port also have a higher-than-average number of nearby farms and community-supported agricultural networks in addition to their favorable weather conditions.

Speaking of weather conditions affecting rankings, the arid climate of the American Southwest is partly to blame for the low ratings for some cities. But it isn’t just the weather that’s causing these lower ratings; a lack of nearby farms and farmers markets, combined with low Google search volume for farm-to-table topics can contribute to some western cities ranking lower on this list.

Farming is an institution that has been driving this country since its inception, so it should come as no surprise that older cities on the east coast have a stronger farming infrastructure that makes it easier to support local farmers. When you combine that history of farming with weather factors and overall interest in farm-to-table topics, you quickly get the picture as to why there is such a strong regional correlation in the data.

Top 3 Cities to Support Local Farmers

Supporting local farmers seems to be second-nature to cities in the Northeast. In fact, seven of our top 10 best cities for supporting local farmers are from the region. Let’s take a closer look at the top three.

A graphic showing reasons why Poughkeepsie, NY is the best city for supporting local farmers

Poughkeepsie, NY (home to the Poughkeepsie Farm Project) is the best U.S. city for supporting local farmers. When you take a closer look at the data, there’s really no wonder why. It boasts a whopping 131 nearby farms, 35 farmers markets, and 22 u-pick farms. All are well above the national averages. It’s clear that the Poughkeepsie community is set up for agricultural success with so many ways that community members can buy directly from local farmers.

A graphic showing reasons why Harrisburg, PA is the second-best city for supporting local farmers

The second-best city for supporting local farmers is just a short trip south of Poughkeepsie, Harrisburg, PA. Another city that has obvious farming roots, Harrisburg boasts a walk score that is 20 points higher than the national average and is home to 41 farmers markets. That’s nearly 83 farmers markets per 100k residents! Harrisburg also happens to be the home of the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, which occurred this past January for the 106th time.

A graphic showing reasons why Albany, NY is the third-best U.S. city for supporting local farmers

Albany, NY may have been among the smallest cities in our study, but it sure is set up well when it comes to supporting local farmers. It is home to 121 nearby farms, 10 u-pick farms, and 13 farmers markets. A higher percentage of farmers markets in Albany are organic and accept credit cards than any other city in our study. Its farming infrastructure and relatively high rainfall in 2022 make it the third best city in the U.S. for supporting local farmers.

Closing Thoughts

As we stated earlier, there are no bad cities for supporting local farmers. They do an awful lot for us and are always deserving of our praise and support. Some cities (on the east coast, largely speaking) are just a bit more local farm-friendly than others.

At Verdesian, we develop products and technologies that help farmers grow more with less so they can continue to provide for their local communities effectively and efficiently. Learn more about us and what we do here.

Full Data

That wraps up our city ranking of the Best U.S. Cities to Support Local Farmers. Interested in diving deeper into the numbers for all of the cities, or wanting to see how your city stacks up if it’s not listed within the above map? 

We’ve compiled our full data study for all 100 U.S. cities analyzed into the interactive data table below. Search for the city you call home or click on the heading of each column to sort by that category!

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