Looking for the freshest, most delicious locally grown products available? One of the best ways to enjoy the bounty of Virginia’s spring, summer and fall is to shop at one of the state’s many farmers markets. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) maintains a list of Virginia farmers’ markets by region onVirginiaGrown.com. Virginians can find markets in rural and urban communities across the Commonwealth.
As the demand for Virginia products has increased, so has the number of farmers’ markets in the state. According to VirginiaGrown.com, Virginia has more than 240 farmers’ markets statewide. That’s a 180 percent increase in markets since 2006. Some are open year-round, while many others open in April or May for seasonal business. Research by Virginia Cooperative Extension has shown that if each household in Virginia spent just $10 a week on locally grown agricultural products, consumers would invest an additional $1.65 billion back into the local economy each year.
To promote Virginia farmers’ markets, VDACS and the Virginia Food System Council are bringing back the popular “Farm. Fresh. Pledge!” program for its second year. Shoppers who spend at least $10 a week at a local farmers’ market will be entered to win Virginia Grown prizes throughout the season. Pledge cards and marketing materials will be available at participating Virginia farmers’ markets starting in May. Details about this year’s program will be posted toVirginiaGrown.com soon.
More Americans are thinking about where their food comes from and its nutritional impacts on their health. Farmers’ markets are a great place to find fresh Virginia Grown tomatoes, corn, squash, peaches, melons, berries, flowers and so much more, all harvested at their peak of flavor, freshness and nutrition. Click here to view a calendar of fruit and vegetable availability in Virginia. In addition, many markets offer a variety of local specialty food products, artisans and craftspeople, ready-to-eat treats and family fun entertainment. And to help all Virginians access these fresh, healthy food options, a growing number of Virginia farmers’ markets are set up to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits via the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.
VDACS invites farmers’ markets to add or update their listing on VirginiaGrown.com. Market managers, vendors and consumers are encouraged to follow VDACS on Twitter and Facebook and use the social media hashtag #VirginiaGrown to share what’s fresh throughout the season.