Thursday, July 29, 2010

National Farmers Market Week

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has proclaimed August 1-7, 2010 as National Farmers Market Week. In celebration, De Soto Farmers’ Market is hosting Tomato Fest on Saturday, August 7th from 8 AM until noon. Activities for the event include cooking demonstrations at 8:30, 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30 AM, vegetable sculpture competitions, tomato contests (largest, oddest shape, etc.), and an appearance by the Tomato King, who will be judging the contests!

This year marks the 11th annual National Farmers Market Week. Since the USDA began declaring National Farmers Market Week in 2000, the number of farmers markets has almost doubled, from 2,863 markets in 2000 to 5,274 in 2009.

According to the USDA, De Soto Farmers’ Market is one of the approximately 6,000 in the country operating in 2010, of the 167 in Missouri. The De Soto Farmers’ Market began in 2009, and currently has an average of 10 venders selling a wide variety of products, including squash, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, eggs, homemade breads, baked goods, and more. In the most recent season, De Soto Farmers’ Market helped generate sales for these local producers, a valuable economic boost for the region. In addition, the De Soto Farmers’ Market accepts EBT and debit cards to further improve sales and access to fresh produce.

“Farmers markets are good for your health, good for your community, and good for the economy” says Stacy Miller, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition, a nonprofit supporting farmers markets across the country. “During Farmers Market Week, we invite everyone to celebrate the freshest foods from America’s most entrepreneurial farmers by supporting their local farmers markets.”

According to Cindy Valle, Market Master at the De Soto Farmers’ Market, “the…market was formed so our local community could come together and have an access to buy and sell local, fresh produce and wares. Our vendors take pride in what they have made or grown themselves and we are glad we can give the community the opportunity for quality items locally.”

Other facts about farmers markets:
  • California, New York, Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Kentucky are the states with the most farmers markets.
  • The USDA estimates that farmers markets provide income opportunities for at least 150,000 direct-marketing farmers and food producers across the country.
  • More than 870 markets operate nationwide between November and May in 2009, a time often considered ‘off season.’ This number is growing rapidly.
  • It’s estimated that approximately $1.3 billion in direct farm-to-consumer sales occurred in farmers markets in 2009.
  • Farmers markets accepted over $44 million in WIC (Women, Infant and Children) and SFNP (Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program) vouchers in 2009 – making fresh food available to millions of low income families.
  • More than 1,000 farmers markets are estimated to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in 2010. Between 2008 and 2009, the amount of SNAP dollars redeemed at farmers markets increased more than 100%.
  • Farmers at farmers markets donate hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh produce to local social service agencies across the country each year.

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