VDACS News Releases
May 12, 2016
Farmers’ Market Season in Full Swing in Virginia
The number of Virginia farmers' markets has grown by almost 195 percent since 2005
Contact: Elaine Lidholm, 804.786.7686
Virginia’s farmers’ markets are now open throughout the state and people are thronging to them to satisfy their hunger for local agricultural products. In the most recent Census of Agriculture, more than 3,500 farms in Virginia reported selling directly to consumers. The Census also reported that Virginians spent more than $41 million in-state on fresh, local fruits, vegetables and more, and that the Commonwealth ranked tenth among all states in direct farm-to-consumer sales. Those sales can include on-farm stands, pick-your-own farms and direct sales to restaurants, but farmers’ markets are one of the favorite ways for farmers to sell directly to the public.
Virginia boasts around 250 farmers’ markets now, compared to 85 markets in 2005. That represents growth of 194 percent in 11 years, and the number of markets could grow. “It is very common to see new farmers’ markets open every year,” said Sandra J. Adams, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “They have become a community gathering place where friends and neighbors meet to shop, taste, socialize and buy fresh products for the week.”
Adams encourages visitors to local markets to take the pledge to grow the local economy as they shop. Consumers who track their purchases with a “Farm. Fresh. Pledge!” punch card will have the chance to win a Virginia Grown/Virginia’s Finest™ prize pack valued at up to $200. For every $10 spent, shoppers get a punch on their cards. Consumers who fill up all 14 slots on their card, hand it over to the market manager for entry into the monthly drawing. Pledge punch cards and marketing materials are available at participating Virginia farmers’ markets.
Commissioner Adams also notes that many markets accept credit cards and EBT/SNAP. The growth of EBT/SNAP benefit redemption at farmers’ markets across the state allows for greater access to healthy fresh food choices for citizens of the Commonwealth currently participating in SNAP. “We have seen many markets open in areas designated as food deserts,” she concluded, “and that is meeting a great need and going a long way to improve the health of citizens in under-served areas.”
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