Celebrate 16th Annual National Farmers Market Week!
Farmers markets are a growing trend across the country and very much so right here in Illinois. Illinois the third largest state for farmers markets, behind California and New York so there is much cause to celebrate this year and on August 1st, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the start of the 16th annual Farmers’ Market Week. Farmers’ Market Week will begin Sunday August 2 and run through August 8.
Vilsack made the announcement as Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Anne L. Alonzo and local officials launched the annual observance of National Farmers Market Week at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. New Mexico Department of Agriculture Secretary Jeff M. Witte, Santa Fe Mayor Javier M. Gonzales, and Santa Fe Farmers Market Director Paolo Speirn joined the celebration.
“Farmers Markets benefit communities by offering healthy, wholesome food while local farmers and ranchers benefit from new ways to present their products to customers,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in Washington, DC. “People are changing how they think about farmers markets as they become community gathering points, and we have seen a 64 percent increase in customer traffic in markets open for at least two years.”
In Santa Fe, Alonzo said “Farmers markets are at the heart of many towns and cities, bringing together rural and urban communities, providing Americans with fresh, healthy food, and creating jobs and opportunities for local farmers and ranchers.” She continued, “USDA is proud to support farmers markets. Fifteen years ago, USDA worked with the Santa Fe Farmers Market to design this facility, and today it is one of the most successful markets in the country.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack proclaimed August 2-8, 2015, National Farmers Market Week, noting that the country’s more than 8,400 farmers markets play an important role in sustaining family farms and revitalizing rural communities. Secretary Vilsack has identified strengthening local food systems – including farmers markets – as one of the four pillars of USDA’s commitment to rural economic development and job creation. The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative coordinates USDA’s policy, resources, and outreach efforts related to this work.
The Illinois Farmers Market Association says that in 2014, there were over 378 farmers markets in Illinois. These numbers have continued to rise as farmers markets become fresh food mainstays for shoppers across all socio-economic, political, and ethnic ranges. Farmers markets bolster local economies, improve community health, and bring diverse groups of people together through a shared social space.
Illinois’ farmers are now offering their freshest products at farmers’ markets across the state. These markets provide an important source of income for farmers as more and more consumers seek the freshness, quality, and wide selection of locally grown produce, meats, dairy, and more. By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets serve as education centers. Vendors are teaching customers about agriculture, sharing recipes, and exposing them to new foods
Lindsay Record, program director at Illinois Stewardship Alliance. “Farmers markets benefit our community in so many ways. They provide access to fresh, locally grown food, provide a sense of community and are an important outlet for small family farmers to sell their produce, meat, eggs and more.”
The Illinois Department of Agriculture has a list of farmers markets here.