Popularity Growing for Winter Farmers Markets

While winter may be upon us, consumer demand for farm fresh goods has not diminished.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last month that the number of winter farmers markets listed in the National Farmers Market Directory increased 52 percent, from 1,225 in 2011 to 1,864 in 2012.

According to a recent Ohio Farmer article, winter markets now account for roughly 24 percent of the 7,865 farmers markets listed in the USDA national directory.

The growth in the number of markets is attributed to the steps more farmers are taking to meet increased consumer demand for locally produced goods. Farmers markets allow consumers to have access to locally grown, farm-fresh goods such as fresh or preserved fruit, root vegetables, meat, poultry and eggs. The markets also enable farmers the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with their customers.

The winter markets are also a significant boost to farmers’ and growers’ bottom lines, according to a USDA study, which found that markets operating more than seven months a year garner three times the amount of sales revenue per month than those that operate only during the prime summer months.

"Each winter farmers markets offer additional opportunities for farmers to generate income year round," Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said. "These investments are a win-win.  Farmers have more stability and consumers have a reliable supply of local food, regardless of the season."

Last year, the USDA ranked Ohio fifth nationally in terms of the number of winter farmers markets active throughout the state. While Ohio has moved down in the list, our state still boasts an impressive number of winter farmers markets, including the: 

For a list of additional winter farmers markets throughout the state, visit http://ohioproud.org/searchmarkets.php 

Do you participate in any winter farmers markets or have you attended any this year? If so, which markets do you recommend?

Photo obtained from: boston.mommypoppins.com

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