Published in the August 12, 2016 edition


It is no secret that many Melrosians love their Sally Frank’s Farmers Market, held each Thursday in Bowden Park near the MBTA stop off West Emerson Street.

So here’s a chance to celebrate all that a farmers market has to offer.

Governor Baker has proclaimed Aug. 7-13, 2016 “Massachusetts Farmers Market Week” in recognition of the positive contributions Massachusetts’ farmers markets have on agriculture and public health in the Commonwealth.

The week-long event coincides with the 17th National Farmers Market Week as the United States Department of Agriculture celebrates the nation’s thousands of farmers markets.

“This week, we celebrate the Commonwealth’s many farmers markets, which create economic vitality for hundreds of farms and food producers while supporting local communities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I urge all Massachusetts residents to visit their local farmers market this week to buy some fresh, local produce and support our hard-working farmers.”

“Farmers work hard all year long to deliver high-quality, nutritious products to residents living in cities and towns all across Massachusetts,” said Lieutenant Governor Karen Polito. “We are proud to recognize the farmers markets which help ensure community camaraderie and the continued viability of family farms.”

“The continued growth of farmers markets in Massachusetts has helped to sustain many of our family farms and are an important tool in helping to preserve thousands of acres of our state’s farmland,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Ensuring all Massachusetts residents have access to fresh, healthy food is a priority for this administration and supporting farmers markets throughout the Commonwealth is crucial to making that goal a reality.”

Massachusetts hosts approximately 248 summer and fall farmers markets and 40 winter farmers markets across the Commonwealth. At nearly $48 million, Massachusetts ranks fifth in the nation for direct market sales and third in the nation for direct market sales per operation. Direct market sales account for 10 percent of the state’s total sales of agricultural products.

Courtesy of the Farmers Market Coalition, here are some benefits provided by farmers markets:

• Preserve our precious farmland by supporting rural livelihoods.

• Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for beginning farmers, allowing them to start small, test the market and grow their businesses.

• Stimulate local economies.

• Growers selling locally create 13 full-time farm operator jobs per $1 million in revenue earned. Those that do not sell locally create three.

• Increase access to fresh, nutritious food in communities that need it most.

• Over 5,000 farmers markets across the country accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) benefits, with new locations accepting SNAP increasing at an average rate of 40 percent per year.

• Support healthy, happy communities.

• Farmers markets reconnect communities to their food system. They are places where people from all backgrounds meet to socialize and exchange ideas around cooking, nutrition and agriculture.

• Protect our over-burdened environment.

• Three out of every four farmers selling at farmers markets say they use practices consistent with organic standards.