The rise in popularity of farmers markets in the United States reflects consumers’ negative response to more traditional food distribution systems. Farmers markets provide consumers with a more local and often more personal food purchasing experience. The purpose of this study was to examine consumer motivations to patronize farmers markets through the lens of social, spatial, and natural embeddedness. A qualitative approach was employed utilizing semi-structured, in-depth interviews. These interviews were conducted in person using a set of predetermined questions and revealed nine themes. The findings indicate that two types of consumer choices with different properties exist in farmers market patronage (e.g., the choice of a particular farmers market vs. the choice of a particular vendor at the market). Inconsistency occurs in consumer choice patterns (e.g., economic saving does not greatly affect the choice to shop at a particular farmers market but can determine whom to buy from once at the market), implying that situational dynamics play a critical role at the point of purchase. While this study supports the usefulness of embeddedness as a conceptual framework for understanding farmers’ market patronage, it demonstrates a distinction between motivation to patronize the market and shopping behaviors exhibited once there.



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