By Elisha Smith, Center for Rural Affairs
August 7th–13th is National Farmers Market Week. Farmers Markets are expanding to communities across the nation at an amazing rate. This year over 1,000 new farmers markets have been created nationally.
According to the USDA’s 2011 National Farmers Market Directory, 7,175 farmers markets operated throughout the United States this year, up from 6,132 last year, as more farmers are marketing their products directly to consumers.
Farmers Markets are good for rural communities. They bring farmers and consumers together to create a stronger local economy, provide consumers with fresh, nutritious, affordable local food, and create opportunities for family farmers and ranchers – especially beginners – to diversify their operations and sell what they produce.
Make sure you visit your local Farmers Market this week and return often. To find a farmers market near you check out the USDA National Farmers Market Directory (http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/)
If you don’t have a Farmers Market nearby, help create one in your community. Get started by giving our Farm Bill Helpline a call at 402.687.2100 (ask for the Farm Bill Helpline) for more information about available assistance, then check out the Farmers Market Promotion Program (http://www.ams.usda.gov/fmpp/).
Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grants provide an excellent opportunity for market farmers, market gardeners and rural communities to recoup some of the costs of establishing a farmers market, promoting an existing market or other direct-to-consumer food marketing as well as satisfying the need for fresh, nutritious food in places where people hunger for that access the most.