Secretary A.G. Kawamura today joined U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer in proclaiming Aug. 3-9 “National Farmers Market Week.”

This proclamation celebrates the thousands of farmers across the state who set up their tents, ready their scales, roll out their new products, and invite multitudes of people to sample farm fresh, locally grown products.

The number of farmers markets in the United States has grown approximately 154 percent over the last 12 years, prompting advocates of local farming to designate a week each year to take note of their benefits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports over 4,500 farmers markets currently operate throughout the nation. Sales generated by farmers markets have been estimated to exceed $1 billion a year, with most of the money going directly to small family farmers. Of those markets, approximately 520 are in California.

“Farmers markets allow producers to showcase their spirit of entrepreneurism and ingenuity while helping bridge the gap between urban and rural California,” said Secretary Kawamura. “An abundance of fresh fruits, nuts, vegetables, honey, flowers, eggs, meat, olive oil, jam and salad dressing make farmers markets places where farmers are real, the food is nutritious, and everything is ‘home-grown’”.

Secretary Schafer observed that about one in four farmers markets in the country contribute their surplus to gleaning programs that distribute food to local homeless shelters, community pantries and other charitable organizations that feed the hungry. Farmers markets cater to people of all demographics and income levels. Many markets accept food stamps or vouchers from Women, Infants and Children assistance programs and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

Information on farmers markets, including USDA’s National Directory of Farmers Markets, is available at www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets. Information about California Certified Farmers Markets is available at www.cafarmersmarkets.com.