|Increases Food production by exactly +3, Maximum Population by 3, and Population Growth effectively by +40 or +50.|
The Farmers' Market is a type of Town Building. The Farmers' Market may be built by any race in any town. A town must already contain both a Marketplace and a Granary in order to construct a Farmers' Market. The Farmers' Market's base construction cost is 100.
The Farmers' Market improves on the bonuses bestowed by the Granary. For one, it adds a further +3 Food to the town's output, allowing the empire to maintain a larger army or convert more Farmers into Workers. It also boosts the town's Population Growth by another +40 or +50 people per turn, causing the town the grow even faster than before. Both bonuses are important for developing towns. Farmers' Markets are fairly cheap, and therefore should eventually be installed in any town that's destined to grow beyond the size of a small village.
The ability to store excess grain and other non-perishable foods in the Granary helps reduce waste and boost town growth, but perishable foods like fruit, meat and vegetables are still wasted if not consumed immediately. The Farmers' Market is built in order to allow merchants to better spread this food quickly to citizens of the town itself or even to other towns. It is simply a commercial quarter in the town where all sale of food can be concentrated and better facilitated.
In-game, the Farmers' Market is represented by a large open-air wooden pavilion, as is common in food markets in many rural towns across the world even to this day. Some food stalls can be seen inside the pavilion.
Races and Construction Edit
All Races in the game have access to the Farmers' Market, as it requires no special skills or ingenuity to implement the simple idea of trading off excess food.
A town requires both a Granary and a Marketplace in order to construct a Farmers' Market. If either structure is missing, the Farmers' Market cannot be built. In fact, if either structure is lost or sold off while the Farmers' Market is still in construction, the project will be canceled prematurely and cannot be restarted until these required buildings are rebuilt.
Construction of a Farmers' Market costs 100, a relatively-low price. Since it improves both Population Growth and Food output, the only towns that should not construct it are those that are having Unrest problems (and are thus better off not growing anymore). Otherwise, each town should have a Farmers' Market once it reaches a certain size - to allow further growth.
Continuous Effects Edit
The presence of a Farmers' Market in a town has two separate effects: Increased Food output, and increase Population Growth. These are very important effects, and both are cumulative with the similar bonuses given by the Granary.
The Farmers' Market increases a town's Population Growth by +40 or +50 people per turn. This is assuming, of course, that the town is not already at its Maximum Population, otherwise growth is always 0 (or negative). Together with the bonus from the Granary this is a total of +70 or +80 people per turn, giving a good overall growth speed.
Furthermore, a Farmers' Market increases the town's Food output by exactly +3. The extra food can be used for one of three different purposes: to increase the size of your army by 3 Normal Units, to feed towns that cannot feed themselves, to turn one or more Farmers into Workers. In any case, this stacks with the +2 bonus from the Granary and results in a town giving off enough food to pay for its own garrison and/or support many citizens. As more and more Farmers' Markets spring up in various towns, an empire's military and productive capacity grows greatly.
Unlocked Town Buildings Edit
The Farmers' Market unlocks no new Town Buildings, and is considered a developmental "dead-end".
Unlocked Normal Units Edit
The Farmers' Market unlocks no new Normal Unit production. However, remember that it does provide more Food and hence allows you to keep a larger army. It is not, however, necessary to build a Farmers' Market in the same town that produces units - Food is a pan-imperial commodity that's shared between all towns as necessary.
As towns grow, their rate of growth diminishes to the point where it is necessary to boost this growth to allow them to grow further at any decent rate. While the Granary helps in a small way towards this, a Farmers' Market is also essential once the town reaches a certain size - lest the town grow so slowly that it will essentially take up to 100 turns to gain one more citizen.
For some Races, the racial penalties to growth may cause this to happen earlier on, meaning that the Farmers' Market is even more essential to them for this purpose. Other races grow quickly even without the Farmers' Market, but its construction will still speed up growth and is generally considered very desirable.
Furthermore, the more Farmers' Markets you build, the more Normal Units your empire can support (i.e., a larger army). This is very important for empires that rely on plenty of Normal Units, and less so for Conjurer wizards (for example) who rely mostly on Fantastic Units. Still, Food is not necessarily used for keeping units - it can also allow you to turn more Farmers into Workers, thus speeding up the development of towns and/or the creation of new units.
Always remember not to over-grow a town. Unrest can become a big problem if a town out-grows its current ability to appease its population. Try to develop your religious structures (Shrine, Temple, et cetera) before committing to faster population growth. Remember that Rebels eat Food and produce nothing, so if left unchecked they will simply render the Farmers' Market's bonuses moot.