Laura Avery was honored as this year's recipient of the Buy Fresh Buy Local award, which is presented by the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) to a community member who exemplifies exceptional work on behalf of small farmers. Laura has managed one of California's most iconic farmers markets, the Santa Monica Farmers Market, for thirty years. She is truly a pioneer for local food and small farmers.
In developing the market, she and other champions within the city had to create the rules as they went along. But at each step, the aim was always to ensure that the market benefited local, family farmers and brought the best of every season to consumers hungry for delicious local food. The emphasis was on creating and maintaining a direct line from producer to consumer, and the market has been limited to producers who sell what they grow.
Avery has seen farmers markets proliferate in her region since the 1980s. In Los Angeles County alone, the number has increased from just a handful to over 130, and Avery's oversight in Santa Monica has grown with it—from one weekly market to four.
While the increase in the demand for local food is something to celebrate, it also led to challenges. An issue that Avery remains committed to is working at the local and state levels to prevent fraud and ensure that all vendors at the market are truly selling locally grown produce that they grew themselves.
Her motivation for creating a market of integrity is clear. “I love local food because it’s making people more conscious consumers. There is a value to local. The bottom line is it's really helping the farmer stay on the farm. And farmers love seeing their customers' faces light up! It's a reward for all their hard work.”
And for many of us, Avery sums up what matters about shopping at a favorite farmers market: “Knowing that when you're buying something you're making a difference.”
The award was presented to Avery on March 4, at the California Small Farm Conference, the state's premier gathering of small farmers, agricultural students, farmers market managers and others involved in the small farm industry.
CAFF is proud to highlight Laura Avery's three decades of work on behalf of California family farmers and local food. For more information about CAFF and the Buy Fresh Local award, visit http://caff.org/programs/local-food-systems/awards.
By Ariane Michas--About CAFF: Founded in 1978, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers is a
has been recognized nationally and internationally for its pioneering Biological Agriculture, Farm to School, Buy Fresh Buy Local and Public Policy programs. CAFF has played key roles in enacting the nation’s toughest laws regulating pesticide use, promoting the development of organic farming, bringing fresh, local produce into school cafeterias and classrooms, and establishing programs to distribute locally grown produce to community grocery stores, hospitals, restaurants and farmers markets.