Written by Rayne Pegg, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service
We are proudly in the middle of the eleventh annual National Farmers Market Week as declared by USDA. This year, Secretary Vilsack marked this important milestone with an official Declaration acknowledging the role farmers markets play in stimulating local economies, strengthening communities and supporting farmers.
As part of National Farmers Market Week, we’re also announcing the results of our latest farmers market survey, and the numbers are impressive: 6,100 farmers markets are now operating across the country – a stunning 16% growth from last year! These markets are bringing folks together in cities, towns, suburbs and rural areas of every state in the nation, and they have on offer the freshest produce, meats, cheese, flowers, breads, and other products from their surrounding farms and ranches.
And even when the season is not at harvest peak and the temperatures drop, farmers markets are still going strong. Indeed, over 880 farmers markets in 47 states and Washington, DC operate in the “off-season” of November – March, providing farmers with access to markets and their neighbors with local products all year long.
No matter what state you live in, there is sure to be a farmers market somewhere near you. You can find one at the USDA National Farmers Market Directory or through your State Department of Agriculture. Whether you’re a frequent shopper or brand new to farmers markets, National Farmers Market Week is a great time to get to know the farmers and local products in your community.
This week is also a great time to see what other events and celebrations are happening across the country. For example, in Bismarck, North Dakota, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is hosting a farmers market day at the State Capitol. Meanwhile other states like New Jersey and Washington are honoring National Farmers Market Week by declaring their own State Farmers Market Weeks.
Other organizations are getting involved as well. The Farmers Market Coalition and Wallace Center have teamed up to answer frequently asked questions for market managers and organizers, and shoppers around the country can vote for their favorite farmers market via American Farmland Trust’s “America’s Favorite Farmers Market” contest.
It’s for all these reasons that this is a great week not only to know your farmer and know your food, but also to know your farmers market.