The popularity of farmers markets continues to increase with the number of markets doubling in the past decade, shoppers visiting Washington’s 150 farmers markets to enjoy the freshest, locally grown produce, meats, cheeses and specialty food products, experience new fruits and vegetables, and gain increased access to a variety of nutritious, healthy foods for their families, according to the Washington State Farmers Market Association (WSFMA).
To recognize their growing importance to consumers, farmers and the economy, Gov. Chris Gregoire, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and the WSFMA are celebrating Farmers Market Week in Washington through Aug. 7.
“While we all know farmers markets for the fresh products that are offered, we can’t forget how important these markets are to our economy,” Gregoire said. “They create local jobs, support our growers and small business owners and attract new visitors to our communities.”
Statewide, farmers markets belonging to the WSFMA reported $32 million in sales in 2009. Dozens of other farmers markets also facilitate substantial sales, with dollars going directly to Washington family farmers and the local community.
Locally, the Tacoma Farmers Markets have supported local farmers and brought fresh produce to the community for the past 20 years. In celebration of this wonderful week, the Tacoma Farmers Market has planned activities for all ages. Master Gardeners will teach market goers about seed saving and composting during a gardening clinic while kids can learn about local agriculture through a fun and educational scavenger hunt. Farmers will also reveal a behind the scenes look at farming by bringing animals including goats and chickens.
The Tacoma Farmers Market urges the community to participate throughout this week in order to increase awareness of Washington Farmers Market Week and the local food movement.
“Farmers markets are located in more than 30 counties in the Evergreen State and new markets this year have sprouted up in areas such as south Tacoma, Georgetown, north Spokane and Davenport,” said Jackie Aitchison, executive director of the WSFMA. “Our markets are reporting an increase in the number of shoppers, translating into increased sales for our vendors.”
“The diversity of markets, the variety of foods available, and increasing public interest in visiting farmers markets is also promoting tourism in the state,” said Patrice Barrentine, direct marketing coordinator for the WSDA Small Farm & Direct Marketing Program. “Some visitors get a taste of the local culture off the tourist track by visiting local farmers markets.”
For a directory of farmers market locations and operating hours, visit the WSFMA Web site at http://www.wafarmersmarkets.com .