Department of Agriculture to celebrate statewide farmers’ market growth

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) is celebrating the tremendous growth in farmers’ markets across the Mountain State during National Farmers’ Market Week, August 7-13. Over the last four years, the number of farmers’ markets in West Virginia has nearly tripled. In 2019, there were 93 registered farmers’ markets across the State. Today, that number has climbed to 267.

“Coming out of a pandemic that shut down food manufacturers, higher energy prices, supply chain issues, rising inflation and the military conflict in Ukraine, now more than ever we need to focus on food security. To avoid a potential national food shortage, we must expand access to fresh, local foods,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “Frankly, we need more people in West Virginia to contribute to our local food systems. That starts at the community farmers’ market.”

During Commissioner Leonhardt’s administration, the WVDA has worked with the Legislature to reduce burdens and barriers on farmers’ markets, making it easier for communities to register and start their own markets. Additional legislation has been passed to deregulate non-potentially hazardous foods and allow potentially hazardous foods, such as vinegar-based products, to be sold at markets. The WVDA has also redeveloped and rebranded the WV Grown program, expanded the Veterans and Heroes to Agriculture program and provided additional funding to farmers’ markets around the State.

“The best thing the government can do is support and get out of the way of those who grow our food. We have continued to work with organizations such as the Farmers Market Association, Food and Farm Coalition, Institute for Justice and Farm Bureau to expand markets around the State. We are on the right track towards building food resiliency,” Leonhardt said.

The first National Farmers’ Market Week was established in 1999 by the United States Department of Agriculture. The week is a celebration of the hard work and dedication of the local farmer and agriculture businesses in making farmers’ markets an integral part of the communities in which they are located.

To find your local farmers’ market, check out: https://agriculture.wv.gov/farmers-market-search/. For more information or questions, contact Crescent Gallagher at 304-380-3922 or cgallagher@wvda.us.

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