LINCOLN – Farmers markets in Nebraska are a great opportunity for vegetable and fruit growers in the state to sell to consumers seeking locally produced products.
“We continue to see considerable growth in the number of farmers markets in the state, and don’t expect that trend to end anytime as consumer demand for ‘farm to table’ produce remains strong,” Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach said. “We have had a good mix of vendors at these markets. They range from fulltime producers, to hobbyists, to farmers who use the opportunity to diversify their current operation.”
National Farmers Market week is being celebrated across the country Aug. 7-14.
The number of farmers markets in the state, registered with NDA, has seen a dramatic increase of 259 percent the past 16 years. In 2000, the number of registered markets was 39, increasing to 101 this year.
“Because of the rapidly growing number of farmers markets across the state, we launched an online database last year that can be accessed by both vendors and consumers,” NDA Ag Promotions Coordinator Casey Foster said. “The webpage provides details on locations, days and times of farmers markets across the state. Produce farmers also are given the opportunity to list locations where they sell from, as well as the types of produce they sell.”
Foster said there are over 600 producers and 100 farmers markets listed on the site which can be accessed through the NDA website at www.nda.nebraska.gov. There are farmers markets located in 50 counties statewide. Market managers and vendors can be added to the database by contacting Foster at 800-422-6692.
In addition to coordinating farmer’s market programs, Foster also manages several federally-funded programs. The Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program both are designed to increase sales for produce growers by encouraging the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among qualified senior citizens and individuals in the WIC Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Foster is working with program officials in Omaha to host cooking demonstrations for WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program participants during National Farmers Market Week. The cooking demos are being held Aug. 11, at 1p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., at the OneWorld Community Health Center, 4920 South 30th Street in Omaha.
“The growth of farmers markets in the state has been a win-win for Nebraska,” said Ibach. “It provides more opportunities to grow agriculture and more choices for consumers.”