Visit farm­ers mar­ket

Record Observer - - Opinion -

This week is Na­tional Farm­ers Mar­ket Week. It fol­lows closely on the heels of the Buy Lo­cal Chal­lenge, which asked res­i­dents to pledge to eat at least one item from a lo­cal farm ev­ery day for a week. What bet­ter place to find that food than the lo­cal farm­ers mar­ket?

“Farm­ers Mar­ket Week is a great op­por­tu­nity for Mary­lan­ders to get a taste of fresh, nu­tri­tious food grown right here in the state,” said Gov. Larry Ho­gan said a state­ment. “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.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, there is a grow­ing de­mand for lo­cal pro­duce at both the state and na­tional level. The U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s Na­tional Farm­ers Mar­ket Direc­tory started with 1,755 list­ings in 1994, MDA of­fi­cials said. That has re­port­edly grown to 8,500 list­ings na­tion­wide.

The MDA lists 147 farm­ers mar­kets in the state. Each county has at least one.

Queen Anne’s County boasts two farm­ers mar­kets, where lo­cal res­i­dents can find fresh pro­duce on a reg­u­lar ba­sis:

• Kent Is­land Farm­ers Mar­ket, on the grounds of and some­times in­side Christ Church, 830 Ro­man­coke Road in Stevensville, runs Thursdays 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. year round.

• Centreville Farm­ers Mar­ket, Com­merce Street and Lawyers Row, Centreville, is open 2 to 6 p.m. Wedne­days and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Satur­days, April to Oc­to­ber.

The MDA is ask­ing pa­trons to pro­mote Mary­land’s farm­ers mar­kets by shar­ing pho­tos on so­cial me­dia us­ing the hash tags# Farm­ers Mar­ket Week, #Mar­ketFav and #MDsBest.

“With grow­ing de­mand for fresh, lo­cal prod­ucts, Mary­land farm­ers of­fer a va­ri­ety of fresh pro­duce at farm­ers mar­kets across the state,” said MDA Sec­re­tary Joe Barten­felder in a state­ment. “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.”

The Farm­ers Mar­ket Coali­tion, in pro­mot­ing Na­tional Farm­ers Mar­ket Week, of­fers in­ter­est­ing sta­tis­tics about the pos­i­tive ben­e­fits of lo­cal farm­ers mar­kets. Ac­cord­ing to the FMC, the USDA re­ports that pro­duce prices at farm­ers mar­kets are lower, on av­er­age, than at gro­cery stores. The FMC states that prox­im­ity to farm­ers mar­kets is as­so­ci­ated with lower body mass in­dexes.

An­other blind study ci­ta­tion on the FMC web­site states that shop­pers have more than three times the num­ber of so­cial in­ter­ac­tions at farm­ers mar­kets than they do in gro­cery stores. Shop­ping at the farm­ers mar­ket is a so­cial out­ing, as peo­ple min­gle with friends and neigh­bors while pick­ing out the per­fect wa­ter­melon, bou­quet of flow­ers, baked goods or bot­tle of lo­cally pro­duced wine.

“As farm­ers mar­kets con­tinue to grow across Amer­ica, they’re also be­com­ing crit­i­cal com­mu­nity as­sets and pub­lic spa­ces that bring fam­i­lies from all back­grounds to­gether to so­cial­ize, pur­chase healthy, af­ford­able food and sup­port their lo­cal farmer,” said FMC Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Jenn Cheek in a state­ment.

If the farm­ers mar­ket is not part of your reg­u­lar weekly ac­tiv­i­ties, it should be. There is much to see, sam­ple and take home.

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