Farmers markets are budding all over Arizona, but there are not enough farmers to meet the needs of all the Arizonans who are hungry for local, organic food.

The craze for organic and local food has brought about 21 farmers markets in valley, but Dee Logan, senior coordinator for Arizona Community Farmers Markets, says that the demand for farmers greatly outweighs the actual number of direct market farmers- those that sell produce directly to buyers. Logan said that the markets that customers want across the valley cannot be created until Arizona has more direct market farmers.

“We need to grow farmers, and we need to grow growers before we expand too much more,” Logan said.

Cindy Gentry, executive director of Community Food Connections, says she gets five calls a day from people requesting more farmers markets. However, the work required for direct market farmers is too great to keep up with the demand for markets.

Several factors prevent the development of more direct market farmers, like the effort required to produce organic food that customers seek, Gentry said. Zoning laws make it difficult for commercial and residential land to be converted back to farmland. Also, selling directly to the public requires more marketing expertise that conventional farmers may lack.

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