National Farmers Market Week began Sunday – and through its 2011 National Farmers Market Directory – USDA reports that more than one-thousand new farmers markets have been recorded across the country. The annual report indicates a total of 7,175 farmers markets operate throughout the United States as more farmers are marketing their products directly to consumers. Last year USDA reported that 6,132 markets were operating across the country.
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan points to the remarkable growth in farmers markets as an excellent indicator of the staying power of local and regional foods. According to Merrigan – these outlets provide economic benefits for producers to grow their businesses and communities by providing increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other foods. She calls farmers markets a critical ingredient in America’s food system.
The directory reveals that several states have experienced rapid growth in farmers markets since 2010 – reflecting a growing interest outside of the Far West and Northeast states – where the popularity of farmers markets is more well-established. Alaska and Texas ranked at the top for most growth in farmers markets at 46 and 38-percent respectively. National Farmers Market Week lasts through Saturday, August 13th.