Just in time for Memorial Day weekend and peak farmers market season, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announces the 2014 “Farm. Fresh. Pledge!” program. VDACS and the Virginia Food System Council are bringing back the popular promotion for its second year to encourage Virginians to support their local farmers’ markets and buy fresh-from-the-farm Virginia Grown products this summer.
Consumers who shop at a local farmers’ market and track their purchases with a “Farm. Fresh. Pledge!” punch card will have the chance to win. Pledge punch cards and marketing materials are available at participating Virginia farmers’ markets.
Each time you spend $10 at the market, ask to have your punch card punched. If you spend $30 in one day, get three punches. Spend $140, get all 14 punches. The key to remember is for every $10 you spend, you get a punch. Once you fill up all 14 slots on your card, hand it over to the market manager and your card will be entered into a monthly drawing for a chance to win a Virginia Grown/Virginia’s Finest® prize pack valued at up to $200. To celebrate Virginia Farmers’ Market Week in August, there will be a special drawing for a Virginia Grown/Virginia’s Finest® prize pack and a gift certificate for a Virginia bed & breakfast getaway courtesy of the Bed & Breakfast Association of Virginia. Complete“Farm. Fresh. Pledge!” promotion details are posted on VirginiaGrown.com.
At the end of the summer, a special prize will be awarded to the Virginia farmers’ market with the most completed entries. Virginians are also invited to show their farmers’ market pledge online and watch the pledges rise through the Virginia Food System Council’s pledge webpage.
As the demand for Virginia products has increased, so has the number of farmers’ markets. Today, Virginia has more than 240 farmers’ markets statewide. 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.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) maintains a list of Virginia farmers’ markets by region on VirginiaGrown.com. Virginians can find markets in rural and urban communities across the Commonwealth. 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.
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.