For Immediate Release - June 19, 2009

Bay State Farmers' Market Season Begins

28 New Markets Added This Year

BOSTON - Massachusetts-grown fruits and vegetables have begun pouring into farmers' markets across the state, providing consumers with fresh produce and an array of locally prepared foods right in their own communities. Many of the state's 188 farmers' markets are already open, with others set to open between now and early July. Most will remain open through November.

"Once again this year, we're seeing an increase in the number of farmers' markets operating in the Commonwealth," said Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Scott Soares. "That's good news for farmers, who have local outlets for their produce, and for consumers, who have easy access to fresh, nutritious, locally grown food all summer long."

This season has been particularly fruitful for start-up farmers' markets, with 28 new markets open for business. The communities hosting new markets this year include: Acton, Ashburnham, Boston's Prudential Center and South Station, Braintree, Bridgewater, Dorchester's Peabody Square, Duxbury, Everett, Fitchburg's Burbank Hospital and Riverfront Park, Georgetown, Grafton, Hampden, Hingham at The Square Market, Jamaica Plain at Community Servings, Leicester, Leominster, Newburyport, Osterville, Salem, Springfield at India Orchard, Stoneham, Wakefield, Vineyard Haven, Weymouth,Wilbraham, and Worcester's Northeast side.

In addition to being great places to buy and sell fresh, healthy produce, farmers' markets provide a central location for community residents to gather and socialize. Farmers' markets also give consumers the opportunity to talk about nutrition, recipes, and food production with the farmers themselves.

The Commonwealth's farmers' markets feature a variety of freshly harvested fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers, and many also offer local farm products such as maple syrup, honey, eggs, turkey, cheeses, baked goods, jams and jellies. Fruits and vegetables sold at farmers' markets are typically harvested the same day or within 24 hours of sale, providing consumers with the freshest produce available. Many farmers who participate in farmers' markets accept coupons issued by the state Women, Infants and Children's (WIC) Nutrition Program. WIC recipients should look for "WIC coupons accepted" signs or ask individual farmers if they participate in the food assistance program.

For a list of all markets, days, locations, times, and open and closing dates, consumers should visit the DAR's directory of farmers' markets at: www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/farmers_markets.htm .

For a printed copy of DAR's 2009 farmers' markets list call 617-626-1700.

For more information, contact the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources at 251 Causeway St., Suite 500, Boston, MA 02114, (617) 626-1700 or www.mass.gov/agr. Contact information for the DAR's Amherst office is: 101 University Dr., Suite C4, Amherst, MA 01002, (413) 548-1900.

The DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - the DAR strives to support, regulate, and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production.