Sunday marked the beginning of National Farmers Market Week, which runs through Aug. 10. It is also Virginia Farmers Market Week.
Both national and state groups are encouraging citizens to get out to a farmers market near them this week and spend a little money with the purveyors. Why? Here’s an explanation from a Farmers Market Week press release from VDACS, which states that there’s been a 160 percent increase in the number of markets in Virginia since 2006:
“There’s a reason for this dramatic growth: farmers’ markets fill a need in today’s community. They provide consumers with ready access to high quality, locally grown farm products that are fresh and nutritious. They are good for the economy, giving farmers opportunities to sell directly to the public and keeping those dollars within the local area. And they are improving community health by bringing diverse groups of people together through a shared social space. Add to that cooking classes, special events, art contests and children’s activities and it’s no wonder that new markets are opening all the time.”
VDACS suggests some specific ways to observe the week: Try a new fruit or vegetable, give your kids a little money and let them buy something they want for dinner, talk to a farmer about how he grows and harvests produce, or have a potluck dinner with farmers market dishes.
You can also head to the American Farmland Trust website and pledge to spend $10 at your favorite farmers market. At that site, you can also see the Top 100 Most Celebrated Farmers Markets in America, a list that is constantly changing as pledges come in. The list will be finalized Sept. 9.
Stay tuned to this weekend’s newspaper for my update on Southwest Virginia farmers markets.
What’s your favorite farmers market and why?