BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker, in recognition of the important role farmers markets play in expanding access to fresh, healthy food in Massachusetts, has declared August 1, 2021 to August 7, 2021 as Massachusetts Farmers Market Week. In celebration of Governor Baker’s declaration, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux, United States Department of Agriculture-Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS) Northeast Regional Administrator Lizbeth Silbermann, and local officials on Monday toured farmers markets in the Town of Truro and the City of New Bedford. Massachusetts Farmers Market Week serves as an opportunity to recognize the contributions that farmers markets make to create economic opportunity for Massachusetts farmers and food producers, and for the communities where the markets are located, as well as opportunities for residents to directly receive farm to table products.
“Farmers Market Week reminds us all of the significant benefits local farmers markets offer to communities across the Commonwealth,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “We’re pleased to work with our local farmers and support the many farmers markets in Massachusetts that provide greater access to fresh, local food and expand the reach of Massachusetts’ agricultural sector.”
Over 7,200 farms in Massachusetts keep approximately 491,000 acres of land as open space, and produce over $475 million in agricultural goods each year. Massachusetts ranks fifth in the nation for direct market sales with over $100 million annually, which accounts for 21.1% of the state’s total sales of agricultural products— the highest proportion in the country. Additionally, there are approximately 209 summer and fall farmers markets and another 37 winter farmers markets in communities across the Commonwealth. Increased access to the healthy foods available at farmers markets is made possible through partnerships and programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), the Women Infants and Children (WIC), and Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Programs. Furthermore, farmers markets provide direct marketing access to farmers, help build a strong sustainable local food system, serve as public and community gathering places, and foster a closer connection between the consumer and the food that they consume.
“As the Baker-Polito Administration celebrates Farmers Market Week, we encourage everybody to get outside and visit their local farmers market not only this week, but throughout the season,” said Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner Lebeaux. “At this time, Massachusetts is entering its peak harvest, and shoppers will find an abundant array of fruits, vegetables, and other great products at their local farmers market.”
To address food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and build a more resilient local food system, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded $35 million to food banks, nonprofits, schools and food producers through the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program. The program seeks to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have equitable access to local food, and to better connect farmers, fishermen and other local food producers to a strong, resilient food system to help mitigate future food supply and distribution disruption.
Additional tours will take place on Saturday, August 7, 2021, in the Town of Ashland and the City of Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood. A complete listing of farmers markets throughout Massachusetts can be found on the MassGrown & Fresher website.
–Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
For more articles out of New England, click here.