PARKERSBURG - Local growers and vendors this week are celebrating National Farmers Market Week.
United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has proclaimed Aug. 4-10 as National Farmers Market Week. In celebration, the Parkersburg Downtown Farmers' Marketplace is holding several activities.
On Tuesday the market sold roasted ears of sweet corn for 50 cents each to celebrate the event. The corn, purchased from local growers at the market, was roasted by Gene Evans at the Culinary Academy for West Virginia University of Parkersburg.
At 11 a.m. Friday, patrons are invited to participate in the first Downtown Farmers' Marketplace Watermelon-Eating Contest. The first 20 participants to register by 3 p.m. Thursday will compete to win a free T-shirt and bragging rights until next year's competition. Participants can sign up by emailing Jay Fisher at email@example.com or by calling 304-424-8518.
Farmers markets have become a source of pride and commerce for many communities throughout the United States. By the end of 2012, there were more than 7,800 farmers markets in the U.S., a 10 percent increase in just one year. The numbers continue to rise as farmers markets become fresh food mainstays for shoppers across all socioeconomic, political and ethnic ranges.
Markets result in more viable regional economies and local farm businesses, increased access to fresh, nutritious food and stronger social networks that help keep communities healthy. West Virginia is home to approximately 80 farmers markets.
"While the marketplace has lot to offer, it would not be possible without our local growers, some of whom have been with us since the market first opened in 2006," said Rickie Yeager, city planner and organizer with the marketplace. "We appreciate their continued support and hope people will do the same by stopping by the marketplace in the weeks and months to come."
"Farmers markets play a vital role in forming strong, healthy, local food systems." said Jen O'Brien, interim executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition. "By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets have the benefit of serving as education hubs, small business incubators and civic centers.
"National Farmers Market Week is the perfect time to visit your community's market and learn about the amazing work that America's small farmers are doing every day."