It’s farmers market season
By Mary Hightower
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Farmers markets offer chance to buy, eat local produce
- Produce is freshly picked, didn’t travel a hemisphere to get to you
LITTLE ROCK – For many Arkansans, the shortest route between the farm and the plate is their local farmers market, and in many places, farmers market season is open.
“In Arkansas, we have approximately 90 to 100 farmers markets, with that number steadily increasing,” said Beverly Dunaway, an extension Arkansas MarketMaker representative, with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. MarketMaker is a program that links farmers and their produce to buyers such as restaurants and grocery stores.
Farmers markets come with plenty of benefits: they can add strength to the local economy, provide the fresh local produce that consumers are demanding and link consumers to their local farmers. Since USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service began tracking farmers’ markets in 1994, the number of markets in the United States grew from 1,755 to 8,144 in 2013. Total annual sales at U.S. farmers' markets are estimated at $1 billion.
“We’ve received numerous calls this spring and have traveled to every corner of the state - and locations in between – to provide assistance to chambers of commerce, non-profit organizations, and other interested parties who are establishing new markets in their areas,” Dunaway said “Whether calls come from farmers themselves, community leaders, or interested individuals, it is clear there is a rising demand for fresh, local food.”
The Cooperative Extension Service has a downloadable calendar to let shoppers know just when their favorite fruit and vegetables are available in the farmers market. (See: http://www.uaex.uada.edu/farm-ranch/economics-marketing/docs/locally_grown_produce_calendar.pdf)
“Whether shopping at a farmers market, a roadside stand, through a community supported agriculture program, the local produce section of your grocery store, or, you-pick farm, you’ll be supporting your local growers, producers and your local food network,” Dunaway said.
For more information about Arkansas Marketmaker, contact your county extension office
or visit http://www.uaex.uada.edu/farm-ranch/economics-marketing/market-maker/default.aspx.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service