Every day this summer, communities are converging to celebrate a simple miracle: farmers, as stewards of rural America, coming together to share a harvest that’s feeding local families. The result? More viable regional economies; increased access to fresh, nutritious food; and stronger social networks that help keep communities strong.
United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has proclaimed August 7-13, 2011 as National Farmers Market Week. This year marks the 12th annual National Farmers Market Week. Since 2000, the number of farmers markets has grown 150%, from 2,863 markets to 7,175 in 2011. These numbers continue 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. North Carolina is home to 217 farmers markets.
In its first year of operation, the Smithfield Farmers Market currently has 20 farmers selling a wide variety of products, including sweet potatoes, melons, peaches, corn, eggs, beans and value added products such as soaps, jams and jellies. In the past four months, the Smithfield Farmers Market has generated $20,000 for these local producers, a valuable economic boost for the region.
“The farmers market has had a great first season,” states Laura Crumpler, Market Manager. “The committee is pleased with the market’s success and discussions about what can be improved for next year have already begun.”
“Farmers markets grow healthy farms, healthy people, and healthy communities” says Stacy Miller, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “During a slow economic recovery, farmers markets are stand-out successes in delivering triple bottom line benefits while making entrepreneurship work in communities large and small. During Farmers Market Week, we invite everyone to celebrate their local farmers markets and enjoy fresh local food from America’s most innovative farmers.”