The farm-fresh pledge is back, with potentially big benefits

foodAs peak farmers’ market season approaches, shoppers are being invited to enjoy their favorite farm-fresh products while boosting local economies.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Virginia Food System Council recently announced the return of the “Farm. Fresh. Pledge!” campaign to encourage Virginians to support their local markets. Consumers can visitvirginiafoodsystemcouncil.org/take-the-pledge, pledge to spend $10 a week on locally grown foods and print a weekly punch card to track purchases. Punch cards also are available at participating farmers’ markets.

Shoppers who make 14 weekly pledge purchases can present their filled punch cards to farmers’ market managers to be entered into a drawing for a Virginia Grown/Virginia’s Finest prize pack and a gift certificate for a bed-and-breakfast getaway, courtesy of the Bed & Breakfast Association of Virginia. The drawing will be held in August to mark Virginia Farmers’ Market Week.

Complete “Farm. Fresh. Pledge!” promotion details are available at virginiagrown.com, along with a searchable directory of more than 200 farmers’ markets statewide.

Virginia Cooperative Extension estimates that if each household in Virginia spent $10 a week on locally grown agricultural products, consumers could invest an additional $1.65 billion back into the local economy each year. While the 14-week activity focuses on farmers’ markets, the $10-a-week campaign is a year-round effort to promote local foods and raise consumer awareness regardless of where shoppers are buying groceries.

“For people who already choose to shop at local farmers’ markets, this is an opportunity for them to know their choices are appreciated. For families who typically do not shop at their local markets, it’s an opportunity to discover all the different foods that are being produced close to home and maybe find some new favorites,” said Spencer Neale, chairman of the Virginia Food System Council and vice president of commodity marketing for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

“And with every purchase, they are benefiting not only local farms but also other facets of their communities. That strawberry shortcake you prepare at home delivers more sweet benefits than you might realize.”


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