Sunday, August 5, 2012

Happy National Farmer's Market Week!

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack proclaimed August 5-11, 2012 as National Farmers Market Week. Since 2000, the number of recorded farmers markets has grown approximately 170%, from 2,863 markets in 2000 to more than 7,800 in 2012. Vilsack says “farmers markets across the country offer consumers affordable, convenient, and healthful products sold directly from the farm in their freshest possible state, increasing consumer access to fresh fruits and vegetables and thus promoting child health and potentially reducing childhood obesity.”

Around here…every week is Farmers’ Market week. Well, at least from April 1st to Thanksgiving.

It’s hard to believe that back in 1994, when the USDA first began tracking Farmers Markets, there were only 1,755 in the entire nation.  As of the latest USDA publication in July 2012, there are 7,864!  

Back in 1994, we had given no thought to any farmers’ market.  We filled our produce needs from the local grocery or a small produce stand near our home. I believe there was a local market, but it was somewhat sporadic…and hard to find.  We put in a garden in hopes of finding that elusive “perfect” tomato.

This is NOT a bad photo...
it was just THAT foggy!

As we began the odyssey that eventually led us to the Valley, our focus on growing food became more intense. The garden got bigger and we got the girls involved. We added some livestock.  We learned a lot about growing different crops and preserving the bounty.

When we arrived in the Valley, and what we thought was a well-crafted plan was suddenly NOT “the plan”, we had to revise, rethink and re-invent. Despite some major ups and downs, frustrations and heartaches, we finally landed on our feet. We are eternally grateful to the group of newfound friends who suggested venturing into the Farmers’ Market.

The trials and errors and misadventures of the last 15 years have allowed us to discover many things about many subjects. The Staunton/Augusta Farmers' Market is vital to our survival.  Not only does it provide income, it is enjoyable and educational.  We have found our true calling…and more than a few good friends along the way.

Farmers’ Markets offer a unique opportunity to the small producer.  It is possible for a grower to make a good living from a small plot by marketing his/her products directly to the public.
1st Market ever 
The atmosphere of a farmers’ market serves as a business incubator of sorts and small ventures have a chance to grow into larger, profitable enterprises.

To the customers, the Market offers unparalleled local freshness of all kinds of products.  There is the chance to connect with the actual producers of food products. The eclectic atmosphere of food, music and friendly conversation is unique to a farmers’ market.

Have a great Farmers’ Market week!  


              Shop a local market.  


                             Try a new food product.

  Get to know a farmer! (or two)

**market photos courtesy of T. Leighton Womack Photography**

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