USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack has proclaimed Aug. 4-10 to be National Farmers Market Week throughout the country.
The Davis Farmers Market will help locals celebrate in two ways: by hosting First 5 California’s Hands-On Health Express at the market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, and by encouraging market fans and shoppers to participate in the national campaign, “I Love My Farmers Market,” by pledging to spend $10 a week at the market at www.LoveMyFarmersMarket.org
First 5 California’s Hands-On Health Express is a free, bilingual children’s exhibit that travels across California to inspire families with children ages 5 and younger to eat right and stay physically active. The Express includes a playtime spin wheel, coloring stations, a play farmers market and prizes. Prizes include paper crowns, kids’ activity calendars, stickers, bilingual recipe booklets, temporary tattoos and more.
Parenting resources are also available, like First 5 California’s Kit for New Parents and other informational pamphlets and resources on healthy eating and activities for children ages 0-5.
The Hands-On Health Express is staffed by two ambassadors who engage families in Express activities, handing out free resources and delivering First 5 California’s healthy messages.
Market manager Randii MacNear says the market has been promoting the “I Love My Farmers Market” campaign since mid-July.
“American Farmland Trust created the summer campaign with the goal of building awareness about the relationship between farmers and farmers markets and keeping family farms on their farmland,” she says. “The campaigns asks farmers market shoppers to show their love for their farmers market by making a pledge — not a donation, no online spending, just a promise — to spend $10 a week at the farmers market.
“Most of our shoppers spend more than that each week at the market. The act of pledging creates a new commitment to our market, our farmers and to keeping those farmers on their farmland.”
The trust’s campaign aims to put $1 million in pledged dollars into the pockets of family farmers by the close of the campaign on Sept. 9. The campaign marks the fifth year that American Farmland Trust has hosted a summerlong event to honor the nation’s hard-working family farmers while helping to raise consumer awareness about development that threaten’s America’s remaining farm and ranch land.
The trust estimates that farmers receive just $1.58 out of every $10 spent on overall food purchases, but they get $8.50 for every $10 spent at farmers markets. The trust says that small farmers are often pressured by development that consumes fertile farmland, and many are in the path of destruction.
According to the trust, farms near metropolitan areas produce 91 percent of the nation’s fruit, 78 percent of the vegetables, and 67 percent of our dairy products, based on market value.
“We’ve seen a nice uptick in sales every year for the past few years,” MacNear says. “It’s almost ironic that the slowdown in the overall economy seems to have driven a return to the kitchen and cooking, eating at home, and buying locally. People are realizing that shopping our farmers market makes them feel good, both mentally and physically, and it’s good to be outside talking with your neighbors and friends.”
Steve Smit, an organic fruit grower who is a favorite at Davis Farmers Market, stands with his children on his farm — Mt. Moriah — in Lodi. Lauren Bechelli/Courtesy photo