Growers taking their goodies to market will have even more to celebrate during National Farmers Market Week, Aug. 6 – 12.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Farmers Market Week is designed to celebrate the vital role markets play in supporting local economies and giving consumers access to healthy local foods.
“Farmers’ markets are a way for consumers to get fresh, local, nutritious produce direct from the producer,” explained Chris Cook, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation assistant director of rural development. “These markets are usually the first step that farmers take when they start selling their products directly to the consumer. It is the easiest and quickest way for them to acquire customers.”
The most recent Census of Agriculture found that more than 3,500 Virginia farm operators sell directly to consumers. Virginia has nearly 250 farmers’ markets, compared to 85 in 2005.
Virginia ranks ninth nationwide for direct farm-to-consumer sales. In 2015, Virginians spent more than $41 million on local products.
“One of the best ways to support your local economy is to purchase locally grown agricultural products,” said Sandy Adams, Virginia’s commissioner of agriculture and consumer services. “Research by Virginia Cooperative Extension has shown that if each household spent $10 a week on local products, an additional $1.65 billion would be invested back into the commonwealth’s local economy each year.”
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services maintains a directory of farmers’ markets across the state at virginiagrown.com.
The Town of Stuart’s Farmers Market is open on Fridays, May through November from 8 a.m. to noon and Tuesdays, June through September, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The market features local meats, baked items, fruits and vegetables and handmade crafts.