2012 PRESS RELEASES
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July 27, 2012
CELEBRATE VIRGINIA FARMERS’ MARKET WEEK AUGUST 5 – 11, 2012
Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686
Because the popularity of farmers’ markets in Virginia continues to grow; because they provide the public with ready access to high quality, locally grown farm products and more; and because farmers’ markets are good for the economy and for communities across the Commonwealth, Governor Bob McDonnell has recognized the week of August 5 – 11, 2012, as Farmers’ Market Week in Virginia.
According to Matthew J. Lohr, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), farmers’ markets are a valuable community asset and they are seeing dramatic growth in Virginia. “We have jumped from 88 markets in 2005 to more than 210 markets this year,” Lohr said. He cites several reasons for the popularity of farmers’ markets. Products sold at farmers’ markets are grown nearby, minimizing the time it takes to move them from field to fork and maximizing their time-sensitive flavors and nutrients. This means buyers get a bonus of taste and nutrition with every produce purchase. Farmers benefit, too, from the markets’ readymade sales outlets and the opportunity to increase their financial returns by selling directly to buyers.
A farmers’ market is a great place to find Virginia Grown tomatoes, peaches, sweet corn, fresh eggs and cheese, plants and herbs acclimated to the specific micro climate, homemade strawberry jam or a chat with neighbors and friends. Many people like farmers’ markets because they can talk to the person who grew, produced or processed the fresh, delicious food they came to buy.
Already this season Virginia has added new markets from the far Southwest (Wise) to the Eastern Shore (Onancock). Chesterfield County, Fredericksburg, Norfolk, Newport News, Richmond, Saltville and Surry have new markets; in fact, Richmond has two, one in Carytown and a Hispanic market in Broad Rock Park. The number of winter markets also grew dramatically last year, from a handful to more than 40.
“We are excited about any new way to get healthy and delicious Virginia Grown produce into the hands of our citizens,” Lohr said, “not just by adding new markets but also by offering additional services and conveniences.” This includes the economic incentive of SNAP vouchers, formerly known as food stamps, and the convenience of Electronic Bank Transfer capability. Markets also offer vouchers for senior citizens through the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, a federal program that provides coupons for economically-disadvantaged seniors. When markets are able to offer EBT, they also offer debit and credit card capabilities, and this helps draw in non-SNAP customers. This increases general revenue for the farmers and tax revenues for the local community while offering consumers expanded choices in fresh products. “It’s a win-win-win situation,” Lohr said, “and opens up a world of fresh products to people who might not otherwise have access to healthy eating options.”
The continuing growth of Virginia farmers’ markets helps maintain agriculture as the Commonwealth’s number one industry with an economic impact of $55 billion annually and 357,000 jobs to its credit. The markets also help sustain Virginia’s working farms that provide green and open spaces and help preserve the high quality of life enjoyed by Virginians.
Click here for a copy of Governor McDonnell’s Farmers’ Market Week proclamation. Consumers will find a list of farmers’ markets throughout Virginia at www.VirginiaGrown.com, as well as recipes, a produce availability chart, a list of food festivals and much more.
So get the kids, make sure you have plenty of small bills and join the celebration of Farmers’ Market Week August 5 – 11, 2012, at a market near you.