Farmers markets expected to get off to strong start

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It has taken a while, but Delaware’s farmers’ markets seem destined  to reach a large percentage of First State residents.

Twenty-seven local farmers’ markets  are expected to  open during the spring and summer, including 12 new sites that will offer Delaware produce. This is the seventh year of Delaware’s farmers’ market program. The Milton Farmers’ Market in Sussex County  kicks  off the season on April 20, followed by Selbyville on April 21.

A release from the state Department of Agriculture stated that the 2011 season, which had 16 community-sponsored markets, brought in $1.8 million in sales. In 2010, with 14 markets. The  markets brought in $1.3 million a year earlier.

The tremendous growth in Delaware’s farmers’ market program helps strengthen the agriculture industry and support local jobs,” Gov. Jack Markell said. “The markets benefit farmers and consumers. My family, and thousands of other Delaware families, is looking forward to enjoying our state’s fresh nutritious produce and other agricultural products.”

Farmers’ markets have historically served as a community gathering place, and Delaware’s markets are showing this year that our communities are strong,” Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee said. “The markets also help connect residents with their neighboring farmers, and build an appreciation for our farmers’ service. When consumers can learn more about how their asparagus and apples come to their kitchens, everyone wins.”

Grant funding from the Department of Agriculture will enable two of the markets – Cool Spring and Village Fresh, both in Wilmington – to offer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card transactions this year, allowing families to purchase local produce and food items as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

New markets this year include 12th and Brandywine (Wilmington), Barn at Five Points (near Lewes), Garfield Park (New Castle), Hockessin, Long Neck, Millsboro, Millville, Orchard Point (Bridgeville), Selbyville, Smyrna, Trolley Square (Wilmington) and Village Fresh (Wilmington).

In addition to produce, many markets offer other products, such as cheese and baked goods, just to name a couple.

The farmers’ markets are supported and coordinated by the Delaware Department of Agriculture, but are funded and hosted by local groups, organizations and municipal governments.

For a complete list of farmers’ markets and on-the-farm markets, along with opening dates and hours, visit dda.delaware.gov.

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