State Agriculture Officials Kick off Farmers' Market Season
Commissioner Soares said shoppers will not only find an array of freshly harvested fruits and vegetables, they will also find other local farm products such as maple syrup, honey, eggs, farmstead cheeses, baked goods, jams and jellies - all sold directly by local farmers.
"Shopping at your local farmers' market is a great way to connect with and support the community," said Commissioner Soares. "All of the Commonwealth's farmers' markets are a great source for locally-grown, healthy foods and a place for the community to gather and even share recipes. Keep supporting your local growers."
Most farmers' markets will be open until the end of October - with some staying open through Thanksgiving. Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be able to use their benefits at 79 markets throughout the season.
New this year - wine is available at 34 local farmers' markets from the Boston area to Western Massachusetts. Many markets feature products from local wineries as a result of a new state law, which permits licensed winemakers to sell their vintages directly to the public.
"Having wine available at farmers' markets has an enormous benefit for the local wineries," said Kip Kumler, a member of the Massachusetts Farm Wineries and Growers Association. "This is part of a direct consumer movement that leads to more interaction with the consumer. It also leads to a higher margin of people to sell to."
To help consumers find a nearby market, the Department of Agricultural Resources has put together a directory of all the farmers' markets open this season. This annual list of farmers' markets provides days, locations, times, and opening and closing dates for each market. This list is available at http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/farmers_markets.htm
The number of farmers' markets has more than doubled since 2004 and Massachusetts ranks sixth nationally. This year, 24 new seasonal farmers' markets are debuting in the following communities:
Falmouth/Mahoney's Garden Center
Attleboro/Our Lady of LaSalette
Holyoke/Donahue Elementary School
Wilbraham/The Rice Market
Chelmsford/Mahoney's Garden Center
Jamaica Plain/Egleston Square
DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services - DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth's agricultural community 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 at twitter.com/mdarcommish