File photoAccording to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers markets continue to expand in number across the U.S. The popularity of farmers markets continues to grow.
More than 1,000 farmers markets have started in the U.S. over the past year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the 2011 National Farmers Market Directory. That is up 17% compared with a year ago.
The USDA offers an online resource guide for consumers to seek out U.S. farmers markets, and allows users to identify markets by proximity to zip codes.
The 2011 directory shows that 7,175 farmers markets operate in the U.S., up from 6,132 markets at the same time a year ago. Almost 12% of all the markets reported the ability to accept food stamp benefits, an increase of 16%. Last year, SNAP (food stamp ) purchases totaled $7.5 million at farmers markets and direct to consumer food retail establishments. Participants made 453,711 purchases at farmers markets in 2010, with an average amount bought of $16.69, according to the report.
“The remarkable growth in farmers markets is an excellent indicator of the staying power of local and regional foods,” agriculture deputy secretary Kathleen Merrigan said in the release on the report. “These outlets provide economic benefits for producers to grow their businesses and also to communities by providing increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other foods.”
Edward Avalos, sgriculture underSecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, wrote about how farmers markets help producers on the USDA's blog.
National Farmers Market Week is Aug. 7-13.
Alaska and Texas had the most growth in the past year. The USDA rated the top ten list for growth:
- Alaska: 35 markets, up 46%
- Texas: 166 markets, up 38%
- Colorado: 130 markets, up 38%
- New Mexico: 80 markets, up 38%
- Indiana: 171 markets, up 37%
- Oklahoma: 61 markets, up 32%
- South Dakota: 29 markets, up 32%
- Pennsylvania: 266 markets, up 31%
- Ohio: 278 markets, up 31%
- Michigan: 349 markets, up 30%
The top 10 states number of farmers markets were also reported:
- California (729 markets)
- New York (520)
- Michigan (349)
- Illinois (305)
- Ohio (278)
- Pennsylvania (266)
- Massachusetts (255)
- Iowa (237)
- Wisconsin (231)
- North Carolina (217)