National Farmers Market Week is Aug. 2-8 this year, so stop by the Sitka Farmers Market this Saturday to help kick off the celebration. The Sitka Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.
The annual National Farmers Market Week celebration is the first full week of August, when growing season is peaking around the country. This year’s theme is “There’s More To Market,” which highlights the wider variety of products now found at farmers markets across the country. Click here to read this year’s National Farmers Market Week proclamation from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack.
The number of farmers markets in the country has tripled since 1998, growing from 2,746 markets in 1998 to 8,268 in 2014. There has been similar growth in Alaska, and now markets can be found in many Bush communities from Bethel to Thorne Bay. This growth has improved Alaska’s food security while also serving as an incubator for new businesses.
According to the Farmers Market Coalition, farmers markets…
- Preserve America’s rural livelihoods and farmland. Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for beginning farmers, allowing them to start small, test the market, and grow their businesses.
- Stimulate local economies. Growers selling locally create 13 full time farm operator jobs per $1 million in revenue earned. Those that do not sell locally create three.
- Increase access to fresh, nutritious food. Several studies have found lower prices for conventional and organic produce at farmers markets than at supermarkets. Due to this and other factors, 52 percent more SNAP households shop at farmers markets and from direct marketing farmers today than in 2011.
- Support healthy communities. Farmers market vendors educate their shoppers. Four out of five farmers selling at markets discuss farming practices with their customers, and three in five discuss nutrition and how to prepare food.
- Promote sustainability. Three out of every four farmers selling at farmers markets say they use practices consistent with organic standards.