Over the past 6 years that I have lived in Virginia I have watched my local farmer’s market grow from a just a handful of farmers selling produce to a vibrant market with 35 different vendors selling a variety of plants, produce, meats, cheeses, and baked goods. The farmer’s market is my favorite place to take the kids on a Saturday morning. We have gotten familiar with some of the farmers and learned from them about their produce. Frequently vendors will offer samples of different produce and other foods. Sampling the produce at the market is a neat way for kids to try new foods, too.
A couple of years ago I decided to give myself a goal of spending ten dollars a week at the farmer’s market. It seemed like an arbitrary number, but it was one I could wrap my head around. If I missed the market one week because of an activity or vacation, I could make up for it during other weeks. It turns out 10 dollars is a number that is cited by the Virginia Cooperative Extension in calculating how much revenue could be brought into an area by families buying locally. According to their statistics, if each family in my 5 county region of Virginia spends ten dollars per week on local farm-based products, it would generate over 57 million community food dollars for the region. Extend that across the state of Virginia and over 555 million dollars could be generated!! The farmers market is a great opportunity to show kids that supporting local business is important.
Thanks to some hardworking farmer’s market enthusiasts, our farmer’s market also has a token program. This program allows anyone to use their debit card to buy tokens which they can use at market instead of needing cash. This is a convenient way for the market to accept credit card transactions without the vendors individually having to take on the burden and cost. Also, families on the SNAP food assistance program can use their benefits and receive matching tokens for up to 10 dollars a week! It’s a great idea for families to support their local markets, so that programs like these can be started and sustained.
I love the sense of community that I get when visiting the market, and I love the lessons that my children learn as well. It’s well worth visiting with kids and makes for a great outing. Currently there are an estimated 2500 visitors per week at my local market, but this will only grow with area families visiting and supporting it. Treat yourself and your family to some treats, and support your local farmers, too! To learn more about my favorite local market visit their website. To find out about farmers markets in your area visit Local Harvest.
For more ideas on recipes using local produce, stay tuned to Doctor Yum.