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USDA Celebrates Food and Nutrition at the Inaugural Fall Festival

Halloween has passed, but here in DC the fall leaves are still beautiful despite all the rain we’ve been having–and last Friday USDA had a great end of season party.

At our first fall festival, people visited the last USDA farmers market of the season, saw cider made in our very own People’s Garden, and sampled homemade butternut squash soup. Check out photos from the event here.

Our event mirrored those happening all over the country as farmers markets become more and more popular as places to gather, buy fresh food, and where you can literally get to Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food. In fact, according USDA research, among the top five reasons that people shop at farmers markets are: access to local food, support for local agriculture, and knowing how food is produced.

While we are celebrating growth in farmers markets—more than 5,200 are operating this year—can you believe that 14 markets have been in continuous operation for more than 100 years? There are even a few markets that have been around as long as America itself. Every Friday from June to November for the last 14 years, USDA has held the outdoor market in a parking lot at its headquarters. Customers are a mix of USDA and other federal employees, tourists and people who live in the area—an average of 2,500 hundred of them each week during the peak season. Click here to find a farmer’s market near you!

We’re proud of our market, and along with the General Services Administration, we’ve written a guide on how other federal agencies can start markets of their own. To access the booklet, find a farmers market in your area, and learn a lot more about farmers markets and direct marketing research, visit our Farmers Markets and Local Food Marketing website.

In contrast to the market, the People’s Garden is just finishing up its first season and the first year of the 3-year transition period to becoming certified organic. I had the pleasure of dedicating the Garden back in April, on Earth Day, and since then we have harvested more than 300 pounds of produce and donated it to the DC Central Kitchen. The Garden also provided the setting for summer-long Healthy Garden Workshops that taught people everything from how to make compost to creating window boxes.

And although our outdoor activities are winding down, we’ll start our indoor farmer’s market on December 2. Who says all good things must come to an end?

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