Celebrate Farmers’ Market Week 2013

August 4-10
By Eboni Bryant, MS, MBA, Manager, LiveWELL Lancaster County

This year, National Farmers’ Market Week will be celebrated from August 4 to August 10. However, if your community is fortunate to have a farmers’ market, you should celebrate it every day the market is open.
Farmers’ markets vary in size and location, but they are places where local farmers or their representatives can sell food that they’ve produced themselves to local consumers. Some markets involve hundreds of vendors and take place every week of the year, while others may involve a few farmers and only be open during certain seasons. However, because of the rich agricultural environment in Central Pennsylvania, we are fortunate to have a number of farmers’ markets that are open year round.
Farmers’ markets allow shoppers access to locally grown, farm-fresh produce; enables farmers the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with their customers; cultivate consumer loyalty with the farmers who grow the produce; and help strengthen communities. Additionally, foods purchased at farmers’ markets are typically less expensive than if they were purchased at the local grocery store. According to the USDA, there are three main groups that benefit from farmers’ markets:
Small and Medium-sized Producers
Farmers’ markets are often the first point of entry into the marketplace for small and medium-sized producers. Farmers’ markets help small and medium-sized producers incubate their businesses, develop and test new product lines, obtain better prices for high-value product than alternative distribution channels and obtain a reliable source of farm income.
Consumers
Farmers’ markets allow consumers to have access to locally produced, healthful farm-fresh food, to develop face-to-face relationships with the farmers who grow the food and the opportunity to contribute directly to local farm viability.
The Community
Farmers’ markets often serve as an integral part of creating robust local economies, thriving neighborhoods and vibrant civic design plans. They also provide easier access to fresh, healthful food in communities where access to fresh, nutritious food may be otherwise limited.
According to the PA Department of Health, in Pennsylvania, about 65 percent of adults are overweight and obese, and about 62 percent of school-age youth are overweight and obese. There are a number of ways we can use farmers’ markets to combat obesity in our communities, while contributing to our local economy. Here are just a few:
• Community members can walk to their local farmers’ market instead of driving or riding the bus there. They can also support efforts to enhance existing markets or start a local farmers’ market by speaking up at community and municipal meetings.
• Parents/guardians can write a letter to the school board to advocate for locally grown fruits and vegetables to be included in every meal served to children at school. Parents can also take fruits and vegetables to your child’s school or day care for celebrations instead of unhealthful snacks.
• Teachers can use field trips to local farmers’ markets to teach students about nutrition, the math and science behind growing fruits and vegetables and entrepreneurship. These trips are also great opportunities to teach local history, incorporate concepts from English and grammar classes and, if the students walk there, get the students physically active.
• Schools and hospitals can work with local farmers to ensure locally grown produce is available in cafeterias and used in meals served to students and patients.
• SNAP & WIC recipients can put their Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) checks to good use by visiting their local farmers’ market and using the checks on the fruits and vegetables they purchase. The local WIC office and County Office on Aging can provide additional information on the programs and issue FMNP checks to participants.
• Doctors can start talking to all of their patients about nutrition and write prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables for patients who have difficulty controlling their weight.
• Business owners can purchase gift certificates or vouchers to local farmers’ markets and use them as incentives for employees. Remember, healthier employees result in reduced health care costs to employers.
• Municipal leaders can work with farmers’ markets and farmers to help them enroll in the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) through the PA Department of Agriculture and/or help them apply for Farmers’ Market Promotion Program grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Farmers’ markets not only benefit our local economy, but they benefit our individual health as well. Support your local farmers’ market today, and don’t forget to celebrate National Farmers’ Market Week in August. Farmers’ markets support healthy communities.

To find your local farmers’ market or farm stand and learn about the payment types they accept, visit search.ams.usda.gov/farmers markets. For more information about how to implement any of these efforts in your local community, contact Eboni Bryant at (717) 544-3779 or email contact@livewelllancaster.org.
Celebre La Semana Del Mercado De Los Agricultores, 2013 Del 04 al 10 Agosto

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