Winter Farmers Markets Expand

Winter Farmers Markets Expand

More than 1,200 locations now offer fresh local foods year round.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan has announced that the number of winter farmers markets is increasing. According to the updated National Farmers Market Directory, since 2010, the number of winter markets has increased 38%, from 886 to 1,225. These winter markets also account for nearly 17% of the nation's 7,222 operating farmers markets (Note: The reported number of farmers markets has been updated since August 2011).

"Consumers are looking for more ways to buy locally grown food throughout the year," said Merrigan. "Through winter markets, American farmers are able to meet this need and bring in additional income to support their families and businesses."

Farmers markets operating at least once between November and March are considered winter farmers markets. The top 10 states for these markets are:

State                # of Winter Markets in 2011                    # of Winter Markets in 2010

1. New York                  180                                                       152

2. California                  153                                                       137

3. Pennsylvania             78                                                         35

4. North Carolina           73                                                         53

5. Ohio                         50                                                         34

6. Maryland                   48                                                         30

7. Florida                      46                                                         31

8. Massachusetts          43                                                         30

9. Virginia                     40                                                         21

10. Michigan                 33                                                         19

The expanded adoption of hoop house technology, which has enabled many smaller growers to extend their production seasons at low cost, has been a contributing factor to the growth of winter farmers markets. Hoop houses have allowed growers to produce locally-grown products for longer time periods and in colder climates.

USDA provides support to farmers markets through numerous programs, including Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block Grants Program and Farmers Market Promotion Program. The agency also sponsors its own indoor farmers market during the winter months at USDA's headquarters in Washington, D.C. The market features local products such as fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, eggs, honey, herbs, handmade soaps, baked goods and more.

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