By BOB RIGGS
NEW ALBANY, Ind. — USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack proclaimed Aug. 4-10 National Farmers’ Markets Week.
In doing, he talked about how they play a key role in developing local food systems that support the sustainability of family farms, revitalize local communities and provide opportunities for farmers and customers to interact.
Just who benefits from local farmers’ markets? A USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Factsheet says farm producers find these direct-to-public markets a shot in the arm to their operations, that offer opportunities to develop and test new products, obtain a higher price than they get from a middleman distribution center and provide a sustainable farm income.
The consumer benefits from having access to locally produced, healthful foods and an opportunity to interact amicably with area farmers. Communities benefit from a boost to their economies, enrich neighborhoods and give access to people who otherwise might not easily be able to purchase such nutritious foods, stated the AMS.
Susan Kaempfer is the director of one such market in the small community of New Albany, Ind., near Louisville, Ky. Kaempfer, also a volunteer at Develop New Albany, a nonprofit organization, said the New Albany Farmers’ Market draws customers to the center of town on otherwise sleepy Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons.
“New Albany was like a ghost town on weekends, but between 8 a.m., and 1 p.m., it is hustle and bustle and it’s a hard time finding a parking place. There are people walking all around, and some liken it to a mini harvest homecoming,” she explained.
On Aug. 3, the Saturday before National Farmers’ Market Week, there were animal rescue organization people and a special mothers’ organization on hand to celebrate and serve the community.
The New Albany Farmers’ Market is one of 8,144 currently listed in the latest USDA National Farmers’ Market Directory.
The AMS says it is one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date listings of farmers’ markets across the country, online at http://search.ams.usda.gov/ farmersmarkets