This week is National Farmers Market Week, as proclaimed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
National Farmers Market Week has been celebrated for the past 15 years, and in that time, farmers markets have grown tremendously in popularity. Since then, the number of farmers markets have more than tripled from 2,863 to more than 8,000 in 2013, according to the Illinois Farmers Market Association.
Illinois is the third-largest state in terms of farmers markets, IFMA said. It ranks behind California and New York. There are more than 300 farmers markets in Illinois.
“Farmers markets support small family farms, boost the local economy, create local business and employment opportunities, and promote diverse, sustainable farming operations across the country,” said Pat Stieren, executive director for IFMA.
That assessment is correct. Shopping at local farmers markets helps support local farmers. It keeps money local. Buying fresh fruits and vegetables offers many health benefits. Farmers markets have more to offer than fruits and vegetables. Vendors also sell jams, jellies, dressings, desserts, eggs, meat, honey and more.
Locally, there are many opportunities for you to visit a farmers market:
• The Thrive: The partnership between St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and DeKalb County Community Gardens hosts a neighborhood market from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. the last Saturday of the month in the church’s parking lot, 900 Normal Road, DeKalb. The next market is Aug. 23.
• Genoa Open Air Market: Genoa Main Street hosts a market on Route 72 in Genoa’s business district from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. the fourth Saturday of the month through September.
• DeKalb Farmers Market: The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce hosts a farmers market in Van Buer Plaza, at North Second and Locust streets, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday through September.
• Sycamore Farmers Market: Discover Sycamore hosts a weekly market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays through September at the corner of Somonauk Road and Elm Street.
If you aren’t a regular visitor to a farmers market, use National Farmers Market Week as a good reason to check one out. You’ll be helping the local economy and local farmers, and you might just become a regular.