Delaware Farmers’ Markets Help Consumers and Farmers Alike

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Delaware farmers’ markets, which were started as a statewide program in 2005, are open during the spring and summer offering fresh Delaware produce and other products as they come into season. The Milton Farmers’ Market usually kick off the season on or about April 19, with other markets opening later—13 in May, nine in June and one in July.

The success of the locally-run markets is due to a growing interest in healthy eating and locally sourced food, Delaware leaders said. For instance, the 2012 season saw an explosive growth in the number of markets, from 16 locations to 29. New markets are expected to open in Bellefonte and in downtown Dover (Loockerman Way Farmers’ Market) in 2013.

“The strength of our farmers’ market program benefits farmers and consumers alike, making the agricultural industry strong and supporting local jobs,” Governor Jack Markell said. “These gathering places help make our communities more vibrant and lively.”

The farmers’ markets provide a significant economic boost to Delaware agriculture. During the 2012 season, farmers’ markets sold $1.96 million worth of goods at 29 locations. The 2011 season featured 16 market sites and brought in $1.8 million, while the 2010 season had 14 sites and $1.3 million in sales. While farmers’ markets are popular int Wilmington, New Castle County-DE, other popular locations are Georgetown Farmers’ Market; Millsboro Farmers’ Market, Rehoboth Beach Farmers Market, and Riverwalk Farmers’ Market in Downtown Milford.

food_market_lewes“Each of these markets helps bring people face-to-face with their local farmers, which broadens Delawareans’ understanding of agriculture and deepens their appreciation for farmers’ contributions,” said Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “They are a joy to visit and see how consumers and farmers learn from each other.”

Five markets will offer Electronic Benefits Transfer card transactions this year, allowing families to purchase local produce and food items as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Historic Lewes (Wilmington, DE), Wilmington Farmers’ Market at Cool Spring, Greater Brandywine Village (Wilmington, DE), Wilmington Co-Op Farmers’ Market (Newark, DE), and
Western Sussex Farmers’ Market (Seaford).

Depending on the vendors, other products such as cut flowers, bedding plants, baked goods, jams, jellies or honey may also be offered. Consumers also will be able to attend special programs and pick up information on nutrition, community events and recipes.

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.

An online list of farmers’ markets and on-the-farm markets provides opening dates and hours of operation. Moreover, the “Delaware Fresh” app provides an interactive map of farmers’ markets, agritourism spots and other public farm operations across the state, highlighting specialty locations such as Christmas tree farms during those seasons. The app includes a listing of just what each market has to offer. If the market has a website, the user can easily click to that site through the app. The app is now available for all Windows 8 devices, from mobile phones and tablets to Windows 8 desktops, as well as for iPhone and Android versions.

The app is free and available for download at http://www.apps.delaware.gov.