For Immediate Release - August 19, 2010

Patrick-Murray Administration Celebrates Massachusetts Farmers' Market Week August 22-28

25 events planned across the state

BOSTON - August 19, 2010 - With many varieties of farm products at their peak, Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Scott Soares today announced that Governor Deval Patrick has declared August 22-28 as Massachusetts Farmers' Market Week.

Governor Patrick issued a proclamation designating the week, which will include a kick-off event at Boston City Hall Plaza on Monday, August 23, at 12:30 p.m., featuring the 26 th Annual Massachusetts Tomato Contest awards. During the contest, chefs, food writers and grocers judge farm-grown tomatoes by heaviest, slicing and cherry categories. Judging begins on the Plaza at 10:30 a.m., with winners announced at the 12:30 ceremony.

"Farmers' markets across the Commonwealth are premier destinations for fresh, healthy and locally grown farm products," said Commissioner Soares. "I hope that residents of and visitors to Massachusetts will frequent these markets this week and throughout the growing season to enjoy all that they have to offer."

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ranked Massachusetts No. 6 in the nation for the number of farmers' markets. There are 228 farmers' markets in Massachusetts and the number continues to grow. Nationwide, the number of farmers' markets grew 16 percent in 2010 from 5,274 to 6,132 markets.

Farmers' markets are festive outdoor markets where shoppers find an array of freshly harvested fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers, and a variety of other local farm products, such as maple, honey, eggs, turkey products, baked goods, and jams and jellies. Consumers support the local agricultural industry by buying products sold directly by farmers at the markets.

List of this year's Massachusetts Farmers' Market Week celebrations.

Other Farmers' Market Week Celebrations across the state feature tastings, music and more. The celebration is coordinated by DAR and the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers' Markets, with support from Massachusetts Edible Magazines. The Loving Local: Celebrating the Flavors of Massachusetts Blogathon will take place from Sunday, August 22, through Saturday, August 28.

Hosted by In Our Grandmothers' Kitchens with support from DAR, the event will promote locally grown foods and raise funds for the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers' Markets, a non-profit charitable organization that helps farmers markets throughout the Commonwealth. For more information, visit the blogathon Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LovingLocal?ref=sgm.

Farmers' markets spotlight Massachusetts' agricultural diversity and the benefits of buying local and preserving open space, while increasing access to healthy foods to all citizens of the Commonwealth.

List of Massachusetts Farmers' Markets.

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 - 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. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow us at twitter.com/AgCommishSoares. For your gateway to locally grown products, specialty foods, and fun ag-tivities go to www.mass.gov/massgrown.