City to celebrate Farmers’ Market week

Published 8:09 am Wednesday, August 5, 2009

FRANKLIN—The Franklin Farmers’ Market is planning a big celebration this weekend to commemorate Farmers’ Market Week. Gov. Tim Kaine designated this week Farmers’ Market Week to recognize the growing popularity and importance of farmers’ markets across Virginia.

Franklin’s Farmers’ Market will host festivities this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. According to Kathy Brown, the market manager, there will be special children’s activities, live music from local musicians, live animals provided by Bear Path Acres and a watermelon-eating contest between the Franklin police and fire departments.

“It’s certainly worth a visit, if for nothing but the social event,” she said.

The market, which opened in May, has been a success so far, according to Brown. However, she envisions it being an even bigger draw in the future and enticing more people to spend time and money in Downtown Franklin.

“People are still just getting used to us being here,” she said. “One of my goals was to make the farmers’ market a destination.”

Vendors will be selling fresh-picked, Virginia-grown tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, sweet corn and other fruits and vegetables, Brown said.

“It’s important that we have a place where our small-time local farmers and gardeners can come and sell their produce,” Brown said.

In addition to produce, vendors at the Franklin Farmers’ Market offer plants, flowers, baked goods, meats and homemade preserves and relishes.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the number of farmers’ markets has doubled since 2005, and there are now more than 170 across the state.

The goods sold at farmers’ markets are often more nutritious than those bought in grocery stores, according to VDACS officials.

“The fresh fruits and vegetables sold at farmers’ markets are grown nearby, minimizing the time it takes to move them from field to fork and maximizing their time-sensitive flavors and nutrients,” said Todd P. Haymore, commissioner of the VDACS.

Farmers’ markets help sustain Virginia’s working farms, which in turn help support the state’s economy, according to VDACS. Agriculture is the state’s number one industry and has an economic impact of $55 billion annually and helps provide 357,000 jobs in Virginia.