Farmers Market week begins Aug. 3

Published 10:45 pm Thursday, July 31, 2014

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared August 3 through 9 “National Farmers Market Week” and USDA will celebrate the nation’s thousands of farmers markets, farmers who make them possible and the communities that host them.

Vilsack said farmers markets play a key role in developing local and regional food systems that support family farms and help grow rural economies. Farmers markets bring communities together, connecting cities with the farms that support them and provide Americans across the country with fresh, healthy food, he said

Alabama can boast of 160 farmers markets and the Pike County Farmers Market has a proud tradition of offering locally grown produce to residents three times a week beginning in the early summer and continuing through the autumn harvest season.

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Cliff Boutwell, Pike County Farmers Market manager, said although the weather has slowed production of summer fruits and vegetables, the local farmers market still has fresh produce available at good prices.

The Pike County Farmers Market opens at 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and at 7 a.m. on Saturdays in the back parking lot of First United Methodist Church in Troy.

Boutwell said those who received Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers are encouraged to use them. The vouchers expire in mid-November. The number of vouchers issued depends on the number redeemed so it’s important that the vouchers are used each harvest season, he said.

Don Wambles, administrator of the Alabama Farmers Market Authority, said nothing has been planned statewide in conjunction with “National Farmers Market Week” but individual markets may have special promotions or events planned.

“Everybody is still excited about the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce,” Wambles said. “There continues to be a very strong movement to eat healthy and what better way to eat healthy than with fresh fruits and vegetables. The Alabama Farmers Market Authority continues to add farmers markets as the trend continues to buy fresh and buy local.”

Wambles said many people don’t understand that, in Alabama, the same crops that are available locally in the early summer are available in the fall with the addition of pumpkins, turnips, collards and satsumas.

“Of course, we won’t have satsumas in Pike County but they can be brought up from Houston, Henry and Baldwin and Mobile counties. And, we’ll have our peanuts and pecans to add to the local markets.”