As long as we're just tossing out wild ideas, how about connecting farmers markets with public transportation hubs? Today, most markets seem to be located where city planners want customers to go, not necessarily where the customers already are. What about setting up markets at MTA stops?
And instead of farmers markets being stationary, what about turning them into delivery trucks that will follow set routes? They already do this in my neighborhood, selling cheap fruits and vegetables from the downtown produce market. Why wouldn't it work with high-quality stuff too?
The details of which, if any, of these will work will become clear, as they say, in the fullness of time. The real key, when it comes to thinking about how the farmers market movement might evolve over the next five or 10 years, is to focus on what made them great in the first place: the idea that great fruits and vegetables are grown only by great farmers.
Farmers markets changed American food by offering shoppers a reminder of what great farming can do, by reminding them what great fruits and vegetables taste like. As long as they can continue to do that, somehow, I trust, they will find a way.
This is adapted from the keynote speech at the 2010 California Small Farm Conference held in March in San Diego.