According to a recent article in the Daily Press, farmers markets are alive and well in Virginia, which was cited as a top ten state for the number of markets available in a new United States Department of Agriculture report.
With 249 markets listed, the Commonwealth comes in at No. 9, with California (764 markets), New York (638 markets) and Michigan (339 markets) rounding out the top three states with the most farmers markets.
Elaine Lidholm, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said she thinks the diversity of products grown around the state is one reason markets are prosperous in Virginia.
"Many states hang their agriculture industry on one or two products, say potatoes in Iowa or corn in Nebraska," she said. "We have fruits, nuts, peanuts, beef, pork, poultry, dairy, vegetables, eggs, seafood, sweet corn as well as corn for grain to feed animals, you name it. Many times our farmers' market growers are really diversified with heirloom tomatoes, eggs from heritage chickens or turkeys, vintage apples and other products. Virginia is diversified in terms of climate, topography, soil types and growing conditions so we can produce a wide variety of crops — think peanuts in the sandy soil and warm temperatures of Tidewater versus the rocky soil and cool weather of the mountains in the southwest where cattle thrive and cold weather crops do well."
It's not just the number of farmers markets that is impressive in Virginia, but the rate of growth. From 2007 to 2014, the number of markets in the state jumped from about 100 to more than 240.
Nationwide, the number of farmers markets has increase by 76 percent since 2008, with 8,268 markets listed in the most recent USDA report.
The nationwide numbers come from voluntary reporting on the USDA website. The markets are then entered into a database and are searchable by geographic location, product type and category.
The Peninsula Town Center in Hampton added a farmers market at their location last year. There are also farmers markets on Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg, on Main Street in Smithfield, in City Center in Newport News and in Riverwalk Landing in York County, among other spots on the Peninsula.
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