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DOVER – Delaware farmers’ markets had a record $2.6 million sales season, double that of just five years ago, thanks to dramatically increasing interest in local food and farm-fresh products, the Delaware Department of Agriculture announced today.
“This record-setting season is a reflection of Delaware’s thriving local food movement,” said Governor Jack Markell. “Farmers’ markets help strengthen our neighborhoods and increase economic opportunity. Our farmers, community leaders and market organizers deserve congratulations for a job well-done and thanks for their hard work to keep Delaware’s agriculture and food sector moving forward.”
Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee said the markets are a great example of public-private partnerships. “Over the last few years, we have seen an incredible rise in people wanting to eat healthy and buy fresh, local foods for themselves and their children,” Kee said. “Our farmers and producers are working to meet that demand by selling some of the best fresh produce, meats, cheeses and honey that any state can offer. Our farmers’ markets also connect the people who eat with the people who grow their food, fostering conversations and friendships that can last a lifetime.”
Shoppers bought more fresh produce and other goods from farmers’ markets than ever before in 2014. Sales from all 27 First State community-run farmers’ markets totaled $2,636,727, up more than $520,000 from 2013. Sales have increased more than eightfold since the Department of Agriculture began tracking them in 2007.
Fresh produce made up 59 percent of the total sales in 2014, with the remainder coming from value-added products such as meats, cheeses, jellies, breads, salsa, eggs or honey.
Delaware’s farmers’ markets are all run at the local level, by municipalities, business groups, farmers or market associations, with the Department of Agriculture providing support and marketing assistance.
Use of the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card system is growing steadily, allowing families to purchase local produce and food items as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Five markets offered EBT transactions during 2014, for $5,902 in sales. Several other markets are planning to expand into the program in 2015.
The 2015 market season will begin in April; most markets start their operations in May, June and July. There are currently two winter markets open for the season, in Millsboro and Delaware City. A list of the markets is online at Delaware’s Buy Local Guide, de.gov/buylocal.
Farmers and others interested in becoming a vendor, or community groups interested in starting a local market, can contact Department of Agriculture marketing specialist David Smith at (302) 698-4522 or email@example.com.
Delaware Farmers’ Market Sales Trends
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Chief of Community Relations
Delaware Department of Agriculture
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