In recognition of the important role that farmers markets play in expanding access to fresh, healthy, and local food in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker has declared to August 13, 2022, as Massachusetts Farmers Market Week. In celebration of Governor Baker’s declaration, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux, along with state and local officials, are spending the week touring farmers markets throughout the Commonwealth to highlight the impact these markets have on their communities, serving as a vital link for the public to buy direct from local farmers.
“Farmers Markets offer us all with the opportunity to support the Commonwealth’s many farms – big and small, and to meet and engage directly with our farmers and their staff,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “That special relationship between farmer and consumer highlights how local food is embedded in the culture of so many communities across the Commonwealth. The Baker-Polito Administration is proud to continue to support the state’s growers and producers.”
In addition to the local food that they provide, farmers markets afford the public a chance to learn about the local food supply and how their food is grown. They are educational for all ages, allowing consumers to understand and recognize the hard work that goes into growing and harvesting food.
“While we support them in every season, now is an especially fantastic time to go out and support your local farmers market,” said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux. “It is the perfect time to be celebrating farmers markets during the height of summer as Massachusetts is currently in the midst of its peak harvest so consumers will find a vast and varied array of fruits, vegetables, and other wonderful, delicious products at their local farmers market.”
Over 7,200 farms in Massachusetts keep approximately 491,000 acres of land as open space and produce over $475 million in agricultural goods each year. Massachusetts ranks fifth in the nation for direct market sales with over $100 million annually, which accounts for 21.1% of the state’s total sales of agricultural products— the highest proportion in the country. Additionally, there are approximately 216 summer and fall farmers markets and another 37 winter farmers markets in communities across the Commonwealth.
Increased access to the healthy foods available at farmers markets is made possible through partnerships and programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), the Women Infants and Children (WIC), and Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Programs. Furthermore, farmers markets provide direct access to the state’s agricultural sector, help build a strong sustainable local food system, serve as public and community gathering places, and foster a closer connection between the consumer and the food that they consume.