By Alison Mitchell
For those who love fresh produce – delicious Jersey tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, corn and much more – this is the most wonderful time of the year.
New Jersey’s farm stands and farmers markets are packed with just-picked fruits, veggies and herbs – the mouth-watering stuff we can only dream of in winter.
Many farm stands also offer an assortment of other farm products, including flowers, pies and baked goods, pickles, cheeses, honey, jams, relishes, meats, dairy items and prepared foods. Some even have cooking demonstrations and live music.
Farmers markets are a win for everyone.
Shoppers get fresher, tastier, more nutritious produce – and a chance to meet the farmers who grew it.
Farmers see higher profits because of the reduced costs of packaging and transportation. Farm markets help boost the local economy.
Relationships and a sense of community are formed at farmers markets. Farmers can inspire shoppers to try new foods and recipes, and shoppers can encourage farmers to experiment with different crops or switch to organic and sustainable growing methods.
Now is the time to celebrate summer’s bounty. Since 2008, the American Farmland Trust and Farmers Market Coalition have sponsored America’s Farmers Market Celebration, highlighting the important role farmers markets play in communities across the nation while honoring the farmers, staff and volunteers who make the markets happen.
The celebration includes a fun contest to pick America’s favorite farmers markets. Anyone who loves their local market is eligible to vote from now through Sept. 19. Winners will be announced in the fall. For more information, go to https://markets.farmland.org/
Last year, more than 2,000 farmers markets across the nation participated in America’s Farmers Market Celebration and more than one million supporters engaged through voting and social media.
The celebration is a great reminder that shopping at farmers markets yields a bumper crop of benefits for consumers, farmers, the environment and the local community. It also highlights the importance of preserving farmland to protect the highest quality soils for food production.
Alison Mitchell is a co-executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Far Hills.