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Farmers markets have numerous benefits

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By Kay Kennedy

Many of us grew up with a family garden and remember the fresh taste of the first tomato of the summer or the crispness of the first ear of corn.  While you may not have the time or space to grow your own fruits and vegetables, you can still get the freshest produce available at your local farmers market. Shopping at the local farmers market has numerous benefits for you, your family, local farmers and the community.

Food travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to plate. Since most growers at the markets are local, their food doesn’t have to travel as far to get to the consumer. Buying from local farmers ensures that are you are providing your family with fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables. Not only does this ensure you’re getting the freshest produce available, but it also helps the environment by cutting down on vehicle emissions, and lowers transportation costs for farmers.

Farmers markets help develop a sense of community and unity within an area. Consumers can talk directly with farmers about their products and farming operations.  By the end of the season, many find they’ve developed a personal connection to their local farmers.

Buying from farmers markets is good for the local economy because it keeps your money in your community. It allows growers with small-to-medium-sized operations to receive a fair price for their products without having to compete against large commercial growers. Many times, farmers markets are closer than a grocery store, so shopping at the markets could cut down on your fuel costs.

Make shopping the farmers market a family experience. It provides a great opportunity to teach your children about nutrition, and how food is grown. As children get to see the food up close, they may become interested in trying new foods.

With farmers markets in nearly all of the state’s counties, you can find a market that is close to you. For dates, times and locations of your local farmers market or how to become involved with the market as a vendor, contact the Washington County Cooperative Extension Service.              

The Farmers Market in Springfield is located at the Depot.  The local vendors sell on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings.  You will be surprised at the wide array of items.  Last Saturday I saw strawberries, cherries, beets, lettuce, snow peas, soap, eggs, lettuce, wool, chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, asparagus, herbs, preserves, and much more.  Come and visit as many more vegetables will be available later in the growing season.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.