BOSTON, MA — Governor Baker has proclaimed August 7 to 13, 2016 as “Massachusetts Farmers’ Market Week” in recognition of the positive contributions Massachusetts’ farmers’ markets have on agriculture and public health in the Commonwealth. The weeklong event coincides with the 17th National Farmers’ Market Week as the United States Department of Agriculture celebrates the nation’s thousands of farmers’ markets.
“This week, we celebrate the Commonwealth’s many farmers’ markets, which create economic vitality for hundreds of farms and food producers while supporting local communities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I urge all Massachusetts residents to visit their local farmers’ market this week to buy some fresh, local produce and support our hard-working farmers.”
“Farmers work hard all year long to deliver high-quality, nutritious products to residents living in cities and towns all across Massachusetts,” said Lieutenant Governor Karen Polito. “We are proud to recognize the farmers’ markets which help ensure community camaraderie and the continued viability of family farms.”
“The continued growth of farmers’ markets in Massachusetts has helped to sustain many of our family farms and are an important tool in helping to preserve thousands of acres of our state’s farmland,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Ensuring all Massachusetts residents have access to fresh, healthy food is a priority for this administration, and supporting farmers’ markets throughout the Commonwealth is crucial to making that goal a reality.”
Massachusetts hosts approximately 248 summer and fall farmers’ markets and 40 winter farmers’ markets across the Commonwealth. At nearly $48 million, Massachusetts ranks 5th in the nation for direct market sales and 3rd in the nation for direct market sales per operation. Direct market sales account for 10 percent of the state’s total sales of agricultural products.
“August is an ideal time to recognize farmers’ markets as we are entering Massachusetts’ peak harvest season in the coming weeks,” said Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux. “It’s fitting that we recognize the hard work and countless hours farmers’ market managers and volunteers put in, year-round, to bring farmers’ markets to their communities.”
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of farmers markets accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Of Massachusetts’ 248 summer farmers’ markets, 154 currently accept SNAP, an increase from 142 at this time last year.
“Farmers’ markets offer an important access point for residents to access fresh, local, and healthy foods,” said Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Jeff McCue. “I am encouraged that more and more markets across the state now accept SNAP benefits to allow those in need to stretch their dollar while supporting local agriculture.”
DAR compiles an annual list of Massachusetts farmers’ markets, listing days, locations, times, and opening and closing dates for each market. An interactive map of farmers’ markets statewide is available HERE.
(NOTE: The above press release is from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs.)
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