It’s National Farmers Market Week.
The number of farmers markets across the United States is increasing with 8,144 farmers markets now listed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Farmers Market Directory, up from about 5,000 in 2008.
"Farmers markets are an important public face for agriculture and a critical part of our nation's food system," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "They provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also help fill a growing consumer demand for fresh, healthy foods."
Local food and direct marketing opportunities, including farmers markets, are one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture.
Direct sales of food products from farmers to individual consumers rose by nearly 50 percent between 2002 and 2007, according to the Census of Agriculture. Worth about $1 billion in 2005, local food sales grew to $4.8 billion in 2007 and nearly $7 billion last year, according to industry estimates.
For nearby businesses in major cities across the U.S., having a farmers market nearby means an average increase in sales of from $19,000 to $15 million, according to a 2012 Marketumbrella research paper.
The 10 top states have more than half of all markets listed in the directory database:
1. California (759)
2. New York (637)
3. Illinois (336)
4. Michigan (331)
5. Ohio (300)
6. Pennsylvania (290)
7. Massachusetts (289)
8. Wisconsin (286)
9. Missouri (246)
9. Virginia (tie) (246)
10. Iowa (229)
10. North Carolina (tie) (229)
Geographic regions such as the mid-Atlantic increased to an 11.98 percent market share in 2013, from an 11.65 percent share in 2012; the Northeast increased to 29.11 percent in 2013, from 27.48 percent in 2012; and the Southeast region increased to 5.03 percent in 2013, from 4.79 percent in 2012.
So be sure to visit a farmers market this weekend. I love the fresh, locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables available at local farmers markets, especially the berries. We get fabulous raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries here in the Seattle area.