The 17th annual National Farmers Market Week is Aug. 7-13 this year, so stop by the Sitka Farmers Market to join the celebration, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, 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 “Farmers Markets and Community Education,” which highlights how farmers markets help communities reconnect to and learn about their food sources (from farms and farmers to local food relief programs). 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 more than 8,500 in 2015. 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 growers that do not sell locally create three jobs.
- 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. The Sitka Farmers Market was the first market in Southeast Alaska to accept SNAP and WIC benefits.
- 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.