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Nation sees spike in winter farmers’ markets; Virginia in top 10

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that the number of winter farmers’ markets listed in its National Farmers Market Directory has increased by 52 percent, from 1,225 in 2011 to 1,864 in 2012.

Winter markets now account for roughly 24 percent of the 7,856 farmers’ markets listed in the directory. Markets operating at least once between November and March are considered winter markets.

“Winter farmers’ markets allow operators to offer more opportunity for consumers to purchase local fresh and processed foods,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

Virginia is among the 2012 top 10 states for winter farmers’ markets with 53 markets. California has 284 markets; New York has 196; Florida has 105; Maryland has 70; North Carolina has 62; Massachusetts has 59; Pennsylvania has 58; and Georgia has 55.

Cost-effective options such as high tunnels and eco-friendly greenhouse energy use have helped many small and mid-sized farms expand their growing seasons while keeping overhead costs down.

“Producers are taking advantage of these technologies, so it makes sense that the farmers’ market season is expanding in many localities,” Banks said.

Consumers can find a variety of products such as fresh or preserved fruit, root vegetables, hearty greens, nuts, meat, poultry, eggs, honey, herbs, soaps, baked goods and ornamental crops at winter markets.

To find a winter farmers’ market near you, visit VirginiaGrown.com.

Contact Banks at 804-290-1114 or the USDA Office of Communications at 202-720-4623.

 

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