The Great Harvest chain has set up shop at the City Market, Graham Moomaw writes in the Daily Progress, and that’s got some local farmers upset. The market, overseen by the city, is meant to connect customers with local food producers, and over 100 folks have their names on a waiting list to get a spot at the popular weekly event. The Great Harvest Bread Company is a Montana-based chain, with hundreds of locations across the United States, established on a philosophy of providing more local control to franchisees than most chains. The city says that they were not aware that Great Harvest was a chain, although it’s not clear what difference that would have made in the application process. The owner of the local franchise says that there’s nothing wrong with allowing chains into the farmers’ market, while a couple of critics argue that, by that logic, Subway or Panera could set up shop there.
This debate has unfolded at farmers’ markets across the country, with some markets remaining dedicated to selling local produce, and others turning into something closer to weekly open-air markets for chains. Which approach is better depends on what each community thinks that the purpose of a farmers’ market is. We may be about to find out what the purpose of our farmers’ market is.