The trend of buying locally made products and home grown produce is continuing to gain momentum according to a newly released report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA is reporting a 9.6 percent increase in the number of farmers' markets operating in the U.S. for the 2011 year. The increase follows a 17 percent gain from the 2010 year.
The USDA's National Farmers Market Directory lists 7,684 farmers markets in operation in 2011. The information collected in the directory is self-reported data provided voluntarily by farmers' market managers through an annual outreach effort. Last year, USDA's directory listed 7,175 markets.
"Farmers markets are a critical ingredient to our nation's food system," said Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan in a released statement. "These outlets provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also to the communities looking for fresh, healthy foods. The directory is an online tool that helps connect farmers and consumers, communities and businesses around the country."
The release of the directory comes during National Farmers Market Week, set for Aug.5 to Aug. 11, this year.
California, with its bounty of crops, leads in the number of markets listed in the directory with 827. California is followed by New York (647 markets), Massachusetts (313 markets), Michigan (311 markets), Wisconsin (298 markets), Illinois (292 markets), Ohio (264 markets), Pennsylvania (254 markets), Virginia and Iowa (tied with 227 markets) and North Carolina (202 markets).
There are 10 farmers' markets within 20 miles of Turlock listed in the directory, including the Turlock Certified Farmers' Market. The Turlock Certified Farmers' Market has new vendors joining the line-up this week, including Barker's Gifts, who offer handmade iron and metal decor for home and garden; and Saucy Girls, who serve up gourmet sliders and homemade breakfast sandwiches. The market is open Fridays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Broadway between Olive Avenue and A Street.
The USDA National Farmers Market Directory is available at farmersmarkets.usda.gov. Users can search for markets based on location, available products, and types of payment accepted, including participation in federal nutrition programs. Directory features allow users to locate markets based on proximity to zip code, mapping directions and links to active farmers' market websites.