After an unusually warm winter, many farmers are seeing early harvests of many spring crops. This is good news both for the farmers and for their customers at Farmers' Markets which are beginning to open across the region. The Charleston Gazette posted a piece, "Farmers markets increasing in state," earlier this month, exploring the growth of WV's markets, which have tripled in the past 10 years to around 80.
"Ultimately I think people like markets because they can talk to the farmer, know if they use chemicals and put a face to their source of local fresh food," said [Larry] Lower, president of the Berkeley Springs Farmers Market. "With this whole green movement, people wanted healthy food by supporting local communities so people jumped on the bandwagon."
According to a recent article in BusinessWeek, consumers are spending $1 billion (yes, that's billion) a year at the over 7,000 farmers' markets across the U.S. This is good news for local farms in Appalachia, and a program run by the West Virginia Farmers' Market Association, the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition, and the West Virginia Community Development Hub will help more farmers' markets capitalize on this opportunity. According to the Gazette article, the program will "will provide training and networking opportunities as well as business planning support to 10 selected markets" in order to "find a more substantial way for communities who want to set up markets to improve their methods." To learn more about the program and find out how to apply, visit the WVFMA website. The deadline to apply is May 20.