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September 7, 2012 at 6:00 AM

The nation’s best small farmers market is…?

According to an American Farmland Trust contest, Arlington, in Snohomish County, has one of the best farmers markets in the country, winning the category of “best small farmers market” (defined as 15 or fewer vendors) with 325 out of 5,266 votes cast.

The big Ballard market, in the largest of the contest’s four categories (markets with more than 56 vendors), drew 317 votes, landing it at #12 among the nation’s large farmers markets. The Fayetteville, Arkansas market won that category with 1,439 votes. Here’s a link to the top 20 winners in each division.

We’ve talked before about how these online contests aren’t a scientific assessment of the best burger, chicken, market, ice cream, or what have you. But I believe the ability to inspire large numbers of fans to vote for you means something regardless.

In Arlington’s case, the volunteers running the market blogged that they thought customers appreciated having a truly local market — “There’s nothing like the relationships that develop when farmers are recognized and thanked for the work they do every week” — in addition to having a community gathering space, and having regular free activities like crafts and live music. Lastly, they wrote, “most of our vendors live right here in Arlington, and they have a heart for our community. They don’t drive into town, pack up, and tally their receipts… The shoppers and vendors at the market aren’t just buying and selling — they are investing in each other.”

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