I love farmers markets. The vibrant colors, enticing smells, and vivacious people make me feel so very alive and happy. Local markets also work to bring communities together. I have been to a number of farmers markets across the U.S., but my favorite one is located right here in Washington, DC—in fact, it’s right here at USDA.
My agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service, is proud to host the USDA Farmers Market each week, building connections to the vendors, customers, and surrounding community. Tomorrow, June 6, the USDA Farmers Market opens a new season with a salute to our military, veterans and American agriculture. We will not only celebrate the bounty of the market, but will also thank our military for serving with valor, courage, and distinction.
At USDA, we value the skills and experience of our returning veterans and are excited to have such talented, dedicated Americans apply their expertise to our agricultural community. We are also excited about the line-up of vendors who will be supplying the community with fresh fruits and vegetables and other products this season. There is so much variety, from honey to hand-crafted soap to a variety of popcorn flavors.
During our opening celebration, we will kick off with a host of special events. Beginning with the presentation of colors by the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard and the playing of the national anthem by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, the tone will be set for our barbeque battle of the military chefs. Representatives from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps will cook with fresh, local ingredients, including honey produced right here at USDA Headquarters in the People’s Garden Apiary. Celebrity judges will include Chef Eric Ziebold, Executive Chef at Mandarin Hotel’s CityZen, and Chef Art Smith, Executive Chef of DC’s Art and Soul. And Toby Knapp from HOT 99.5 will emcee the competition.
We’ll also have an interactive exhibit from the Veteran Farmer Coalition, balloon making, and gardening activities. Chef Art Smith will be signing his cookbook from 12 noon to 1 p.m. And gardening enthusiasts will be able to talk with experts from the USDA People’s Garden and find out about the Burpee Seed Company’s Welcome Home Garden Project.
Now in its 19th year, the USDA Farmers Market is a living example of USDA’s commitment to supporting local and regional food systems and connecting communities with fresh, healthy foods. We hope that you will join us on Friday, June 6, at 9:30 a.m. for our opening. And please continue to visit us throughout the rest of the season! The market will be open every Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at 12th St, and Independence Ave., S.W. If you’re not in the DC-Metro area, you can find a market close to you among the more than 8,100 farmers markets listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory.