First Lady Katie O’Malley today joined Agriculture Department Secretary Roger Richardson and County Executive John R. Leopold at an event to kick off National and Maryland Farmers’ Market Week (August 3-9). Governor O’Malley designated this special week to encourage consumers to support Maryland agriculture and visit a farmers’ market in their area. The Westfield Annapolis Farmers’ Market event included entertainment and cooking demonstrations.
“I am proud to officially kick off the National and Maryland Farmers’ Market Week,” said First Lady Katie O’Malley. “Buying locally-grown products strengthens our local economies and the health of our environment and our families, and also keeps land open and productive. Farmers’ markets are increasingly popular sources of farm-fresh, locally-grown, nutritious produce in towns across the state and the nation.”
Maryland’s farmers are now offering their freshest products at farmers’ markets across the state. Every county in Maryland and Baltimore City boasts at least one farmers’ market for a total of 84 markets where consumers can buy affordable farm-fresh, locally-grown, healthy produce, plants and baked goods.
“Farmers’ markets provide an important source of income for farmers as more and more consumers seek the freshness, quality, and wide selection of locally-grown produce,” said Secretary Richardson. “They also serve as integral links between urban, suburban and rural communities. By talking one-on-one with farmers, consumers can learn about fresh produce including preparation and storage tips. Consumers also develop a bond of trust in the integrity and accountability of our growers.”
The number of farmers’ markets in the United States has grown dramatically in recent years, prompting local, regional and national advocates of local farming to designate a week each year to highlight their benefits. The increased popularity of farmers’ markets spurred growth in Maryland from 20 markets in 1991 to 84 markets this year.
“‘Buying Locally’ will help families eat healthfully with the freshest ingredients, will support local farmers and jobs, and will strengthen our economy,” said Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold.
In addition to their economic importance, farmers’ markets are popular community meeting places where residents catch up with each other and purchase fresh, nutritious, locally-produced fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and other food products. In Maryland, 69 out of 84 farmers’ markets are authorized to participate in WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program so that qualified women, children, and seniors have access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and cut herbs.