Consumer Demand For Buying Locally Grown Strong In Delaware

DOVER, Del. (January 11, 2022) – Today, the Delaware Department of Agriculture announced that Delaware farmers’ markets had nearly $3.16 million in sales in 2021. As the second-highest sales year on record for Delaware’s farmers’ markets, 2021 has proven demand for buying locally grown products is strong among residents and visitors to the state.

A return to a more normal season could be one of the contributing factors to the success of Delaware farmers’ markets. However, Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse credits the connections made throughout 2020 when residents relied on family farms to provide produce, meat, fresh eggs, honey, and more.

“When the pandemic first hit, people quickly realized that food wasn’t readily available at their grocery stores. For many Delawareans, it was their first time reaching out to a farm or visiting a farmers’ market, so they could put food on their table,” said Scuse. “We hoped consumers would pick up in 2021, where they left off in 2020, realizing farmers play a significant role in providing fresh, nutritious products grown right here in Delaware. And they did.”

Sales from 18 Delaware community-run farmers’ markets this year totaled $3,159,175. Three farmers’ markets did not provide sales figures, which would have likely put sales closer to the 2019 record. Fresh produce made up 55 percent of total sales. The remainder came from products such as meats, cheeses, jellies, bread, salsa, eggs, or honey.

“This past year, we saw several new farmers’ markets open, offering more opportunities for both customers and vendors,” said Kathy Jackson, DDA Marketing Specialist. “We also experienced a change in the length of our market season this year. With great weather and a bountiful growing season, consumers wanted to take advantage of all the fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other items that local farms had to offer. So, we had several established markets expand into late Fall to benefit both the consumer and the farmer.”

In 2021, 13 markets participated in the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and the Women, Infants, and Children Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program had its highest participation since Delaware began offering these benefits. Seven markets participated in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). These programs help expand access for low-income residents to purchase fresh local produce at Delaware farmers’ markets.

Delaware farmers’ markets are run locally by municipalities, business groups, farmers, or market associations. The Department of Agriculture provides support and marketing assistance.

The 2022 market season will begin in April; most markets start operations in May and June. A current list of the 2021 markets is online at Delaware Grown, https://delawaregrown.com, and will be updated in late March for the 2022 season.

Farmers and others interested in becoming a vendor, or community groups interested in starting a local market, can contact Department of Agriculture marketing specialist Kathy Jackson at (302) 698-4625 or by email kathy.jackson@delaware.gov.

Delaware Farmers’ Market Sales:
2021: $3,159,175
2020: $1,949,593
2019: $3,277,788
2018: $2,883,702
2017: $3,004,174
2016: $2,901,081
2015: $3,029,831
2014: $2,636,727
2013: $2,107,265
2012: $1,960,357
2011: $1,794,265
2010: $1,330,617
2009: $1,121,024
2008: $800,679
2007: $289,706

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Delaware Farmers’ Markets To Open Under New COVID-19 Protocols

DOVER, Del. – With the assistance of the Delaware Farmers’ Market Coalition, a group of market managers from across the state, the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) is issuing protocols to help farmers’ markets safely begin opening starting May 15.

“We want to make sure that opening the farmers’ markets in Delaware is done in a way that maximizes the safety of market staff, family farmers, and the customers who are looking to purchase produce, specialty crops, and other value-added food items,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “We know a lot more about COVID-19 now and the steps we all need to take to prevent the spread of this disease. Farmers’ markets will not be the same social experience as they were prior to COVID-19, but we hope that Delawareans will utilize the markets as a place to purchase locally produced food.”

The protocols issued by DDA will be in place until further notice and are solely intended to allow farmers to sell produce, specialty crops, and other value-added food items that have been directly grown or raised on a farm or prepared in a permitted on-farm kitchen or cottage-food kitchen. Individual farmers’ markets may choose to implement more specific and stringent protocols, but they must at a minimum follow the issued protocols in order to operate and remain open.

“There is nothing better than heading to a farmers’ market in the spring as Delaware grown produce starts to become available. There is a sense of community pride around farmers’ markets that includes supporting our local economy and our family farms,” said Governor John Carney. “With the help of the farmers’ market managers and the staff at the Department of Agriculture and the Delaware Division of Public Health, we are able to allow farmers’ markets to begin opening on May 15 as long as they are able to enact the protocols issued by the Department of Agriculture.”

To create a safer environment for all involved in farmers’ markets, they will no longer be considered a social venue. This means there will be no social gatherings, no entertainment shows or activities, no food trucks or prepared food for consumption on site, no on-site food preparation or sampling, no demonstrations, and no pets allowed, except for service animals.

Depending on the farmers’ market, they may operate a walk-through market or a drive-through market. All customers will be required to wear face coverings, or they will be denied entrance. A maximum of two people per household will be allowed to enter the market to shop. Upon arrival, customers will check in at the entrance with market staff. If the market is at capacity, the customer will be given instructions on how they will be notified when they can go into shop.

Progress through the farmers’ market will only be in one direction. All market attendees will be required to enter through a specific entrance and will all leave out a designated exit, there will be no doubling back to shop at a vendor. Market staff, vendors, and customers will need to social distance, maintaining six feet distance from all others while inside the market area. In order to reduce shopping time, vendors will not have their product available where people can touch or handle product. Customers will need to request items that they want to purchase, and the farmer will package for purchase.

If you are sick with any of the following symptoms, stay home: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle fatigue, chills, shaking with chills, loss of smell or taste. Other symptoms such as headache or digestive symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or lack of appetite) are potential symptoms related to COVID-19 and may prompt further screening, action or investigation.

If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have symptoms of illness, you may not go out in public. Older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions – including serious heart conditions, chronic lung conditions, including moderate to severe asthma, severe obesity and those who are immunocompromised, including through cancer treatment – may have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. We want to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 within our farmers’ market community, so if you are sick or have been exposed or are at higher risk for severe illness – stay home, do not go to the farmers’ market.

More information regarding the protocols for opening Delaware farmers’ markets can be found at https://de.gov/buylocal.

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Celebrating Delaware’s agricultural diversity, linking producers to consumers

Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse kicks off Delaware Grown Week at the Rehoboth Farmers' MarketRehoboth Beach, Del. – Delaware Grown Week – a campaign highlighting the fruits, vegetables, and value-added agricultural products produced in The First State – officially launched with a kick-off event at the Rehoboth Beach Farmers’ Market including Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse, state legislators, and other officials.

State Rep. Lyndon Yearick, R-Camden-Wyoming, authored the legislation creating Delaware Grown Week in 2015. He said one of the goals of the partnership between the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) and the Delaware General Assembly is to facilitate closer relationships between farmers and local consumers.

“Fresher food translates into better nutrition, better taste, and the potential for creating healthier eating habits,” Rep. Yearick said. “And when consumers spend their food dollars locally, they support Delaware’s family farms and spur our economic activity.” While fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs are a highlight of farmers’ markets, about half of Delaware farmers’ market sales are typically tied to agricultural products such as meats, cheeses, jellies, breads, salsa, eggs or honey, facilitating small business start-ups.

purple and green kohlrabi bulbs on wood crates at farmers' market “We know consumers – both Delawareans and visitors to our state– are seeking out local food options because they are more and more interested in where their food is produced. Having an array of locally grown, fresh in-season produce encourages consumers to try new fruits and vegetables and eat healthy,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “With the kickoff of Delaware Grown Week today, I am pleased to announce the release of the new Delaware Grown website. Through the use of an interactive map, DelawareGrown.com helps consumers find local products from fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey to Christmas trees and other value-added products. This is also a resource where citizens can go to learn how to cook using locally grown produce, meet many of our farm families, and learn neat tidbits about the specialty crops we grow here in Delaware.”

Elected leaders and agricultural officials will conduct smaller, targeted activities throughout Delaware Grown Week emphasizing the numerous ways citizens can connect with local farms and enjoy Delaware farm products, such as:

  • Shopping at one of the more than 90 onsite farmstands throughout the state.
  • Visiting and purchasing locally grown products at one of the 20 community-run farmers’ markets operating in Delaware this year.
  • Enjoying time with family and friends at a Delaware “u-pick” operations that offer a satisfying experience for patrons to get the freshest fruit and vegetables possible by harvesting it themselves.
  • Participating in a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, providing shareholders with fresh produce weekly during peak harvest seasons.

Take the opportunity to stop off at a local farmers’ market or on-farm market where there is a variety of fruits and vegetables in season. This is an opportunity to connect with Delaware family farmers that take pride in growing the freshest produce. Many farmers’ markets accept Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) transactions, the Women Infant and Children Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program – expanding the availability of healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables.

For more information, visit https://delawaregrown.com.

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State Fair highlights Delaware’s agriculture industry

More photographs from the 2018 Delaware State Fair are available on Flickr.

DOVER, Del. — Many Delaware youth and adult exhibitors are ready to showcase their agricultural exhibits at this year’s Delaware State Fair. Along with rides, food, and games, the state fair is a great opportunity for fair-goers to learn more about agriculture – Delaware’s top industry.

“I encourage everyone to join our staff down at the Delaware State Fair – one of the best fairs in the United States – to learn about Delaware agriculture and all it does for our consumers and our economy,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse.

More than ninety-nine percent of Delaware’s 2,500 farms are family-owned. Delaware farmers produce a variety of agricultural products on 500,000 acres of farmland, including corn, soybeans, wheat, poultry and livestock, and fruits and vegetables. All of the state’s agricultural commodities can be experienced simply by visiting the barns and buildings along Holloway Street, from the front of the Fair by Quillen Arena all the way back to the 4-H/FFA Building (The Centre) and The Delmarva Building.

As a long-time participant at State Fair, Secretary Scuse offers this advice to newcomers attending this year:

“If you have never been to the Fair, you really need to step inside the 4-H/FFA Building to see

Members of the Delaware FFA Association join Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse, Delaware State Fair President Ron Draper, and other fair board members for a ribbon cutting to open the brand-new FFA AgVenture Exhibit.

how truly talented our young people involved in these organizations are. At some point, you are going to want to stop into the Department’s Ag Commodities building to learn how to cook with Delaware Grown produce, try your hand at plowing a field on our interactive farm games, and talk with people who are involved in agriculture. Finally, walk through the livestock barns to see the wide variety of animals that our young people are showing. Take time to ask questions and learn where your food comes from. Getting to see a dairy cow up close helps make the connection that milk comes from a cow and doesn’t start its journey to your table at the grocery store.”

Attendees can also get a glimpse of the equine industry throughout Fair. Exhibitors will be participating in English and Western classes, showmanship, showing horses in hand, and driving. Harrington Raceway is one of three tracks in Delaware that offers horse racing. On Thursday, July 26, fair-goers are invited to attend harness racing in the M&T Bank Grandstand with a 7 p.m. post time. With more than $550,000 in total purses, the race program will be headlined by four $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund final events for 3-year-olds as well as program staples like the Governor’s Cup, which features some of Delaware’s top horses, ages three years and older. Governor John Carney will be on hand to present the trophy to the winner.

There is so much to see and do at State Fair, but do not let that be your only summer destination. More than 127,000 acres of farmland is permanently preserved throughout the state for future generations. Hop in the car and take a road trip to explore some of the quaint towns and villages to see the beauty agriculture brings to our landscape.

Take the opportunity to stop off at a local farmers’ market or on-farm market where there is a variety of fruits and vegetables in-season. This is another opportunity to connect with Delaware family farmers that take pride in growing the freshest produce. There is nothing like getting sweet corn or a peach that was just picked first thing that morning and is in your hand to eat just a few hours later.

“We want to continue to build a connection between our family farmers and the residents and visitors who enjoy eating Delaware Grown produce,” said DDA spokeswoman Stacey Hofmann. “I know I look forward to eating my share of fair food during the ten days, but including healthy food options in the mix is important to your well-being. Eating fresh fruit as a snack in between shows can help fuel your body. Try a light salad for lunch or dinner to stay refreshed during the hot days that we tend to experience during Fair.”

Planning on purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables ahead of time or even stocking up mid-fair is as is as easy as clicking on http://de.gov/buylocal to find a local farmers’ market or on-farm market. There will be plenty of Delaware-grown watermelon, peaches, berries, sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and more available in July. And if you are wondering what to make with all this good food, stop by the DDA Agricultural Commodities Building during fair to pick up our brand-new recipe collection.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, Chief of Community Relations, stacey.hofmann@delaware.gov, 302-535-6757


Low-income seniors can receive vouchers to spend at Delaware farmers’ markets

DOVER, Del. — A new program will provide fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey at no cost to low-income Sussex County senior citizens at four farmers’ markets in the Rehoboth Beach/Lewes area. Funding for the program is provided by the Delaware Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture.

“We know food insecurity is a huge issue facing many of our seniors in Delaware. In making decisions on what to pay for – housing, medical, or food – the reality is some seniors choose to sacrifice nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables.” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “It has been a priority for our Department to obtain funding to support the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. The $20,000 provided by the General Assembly and with the recent award of $30,000 from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, we will be able to help more than 2,100 eligible seniors in Sussex County.”

The purposes of the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) are to provide fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, cut herbs, and honey from farmers’ markets to low-income seniors and to increase the consumption of agricultural commodities by aiding in the expansion and development of local farmers’ markets.

“Delaware has made it a priority to increase access to nutritious food because it is important to improving the health of all Delawareans,” said Governor Carney. “The addition of the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is incredibly important to our state not only by providing Delaware-grown fruits and vegetables to those who meet the criteria, but it also helps us support our state’s family farmers who take so much pride in growing the fresh produce.”

Seniors may register for the program at scheduled times at local senior centers. Eligible seniors will receive a booklet of four $5 coupons (for a total of $20) which can be used at participating farmers’ markets to purchase their choice of fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, or honey. Recipients may redeem the coupons through October 31 and may designate another person to shop for them if they are unable to attend a farmers’ market.

In order to participate in the program, seniors must be a resident of Delaware, be 60 years or older and have a household income not exceeding 185 percent of the current federal poverty guidelines.

Participating farmers’ markets include:

  • Historic Lewes Farmers’ Market at George H.P. Smith Park, DuPont & Johnson Avenues, Lewes, held Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.
  • Historic Lewes Farmers’ Market at Kings Highway at Crooked Hammock Brewery, 37707 Crooked Hammock Way, Lewes, held Wednesdays from 8 to 11 a.m.
  • Nassau Valley Vineyards Farmers’ Market at 32165 Winery Way, Lewes, held Sundays from noon to 3 p.m.
  • Rehoboth Beach Farmers’ Market at Grove Park adjacent to Lighthouse Circle, Rehoboth Beach, held Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Coupons are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning in late June, and continuing while funds are available. Applications will not be mailed out and will not be accepted prior to June 26. A wait list is kept for eligible seniors who do not receive coupons due to a shortfall in available coupons.

Seniors can register to receive the SFMNP vouchers:

  • Tuesday, June 26, 9 a.m. to noon at Lewes Senior Center, 32083 Janice Road, Lewes;
  • Thursday, June 28, 9 to 11 a.m. at Cape Henlopen Senior Center, 11 Christian Street, Rehoboth Beach; and
  • Tuesday, July 3, 10:30 a.m. to noon at Lewes CHEER Activity Center, 34211 Woods Edge Drive, Lewes.

Additional distribution dates will be announced in July.

For more information on the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, contact Kathy Jackson, Department of Agriculture Marketing Specialist at Kathy.Jackson@delaware.gov.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, 302-698-4542, stacey.hofmann@delaware.gov