National Farmers Market Week follows soon after the Maryland Buy Local Challenge Week, which took place July 23-31. The Maryland Department of Agriculture hopes that consumers will continue the trend and continue to eat local every day throughout farmers market week and beyond.
“Farmers Market Week is a great opportunity for Marylanders to get a taste of fresh, nutritious food grown right here in the state,” says Gov. Larry Hogan. “Buying local is a great way to support our state’s agriculture industry and promote sustainability. I encourage all Marylanders to celebrate this week with a visit to their local farmers market.”
The cultural shift toward healthier eating and the growing demand for locally-grown products is evident at both the state and local level, officials said. According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory of voluntarily listed markets has grown from 1,755 to more than 8,500 across the country since 1994.
“With growing demand for fresh, local products, Maryland farmers offer a variety of fresh produce at farmers markets across the state,” Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder says. “These markets are an important source of income for our farm families, and provide an important link between the state’s urban and rural communities. Buying directly from the farmer gives consumers an opportunity to learn more about farming and develop trust in the integrity and accountability of our growers.”
There are currently 147 farmers markets in Maryland, with at least one in each county and Baltimore City, and the Maryland Department of Agriculture says these markets are important economic drivers for the state’s agriculture industry.
According to a 2015 survey by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Maryland Farmers Market Association, Maryland farmers markets generated $51 million in total sales, with more than 2.3 million consumers visiting the markets last year.
Many farmers markets are branching out and giving back to the community by providing fresh local produce to citizens that might not be able to afford it otherwise. According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, approximately 400 Maryland farmers participate annually in government programs, such as the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, Children and Seniors.
Maryland market shoppers can join the celebration online and help promote National Farmers Market Week by sharing farmers market media and using the hashtags #FarmersMarketWeek, #MarketFav and #MDsBest.
For more information on farmers markets or to find one in your area, visit Maryland’s Best or call (410) 841-5770.