Local markets to celebrate National Farmers Market Week

First Byline: 
Jonathan Vickery - Managing Editor

To promote the nation's thousands of farmers markets, including two in Barnwell County, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared August 3 through 9 National Farmers Market Week.
Throughout the week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will celebrate farmers markets, farmers who make them possible and the communities that host them.
"Farmers markets play a key role in developing local and regional food systems that support family farms, and help grow rural economies. They bring communities together, connecting cities with the farms that support them and provide Americans across the country with fresh, healthy food," said Vilsack.
Barnwell County residents have two farmers markets to shop at for fresh fruits and vegetables, along with a host of other homemade products and crafts.
The farmers market in the Town of Elko has been around since 2008. It is located near the intersection of Highway 78 and 37. It is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday until mid-fall.
"For many, the Elko Farmers' Market has become a Saturday morning destination. It may be because of genuine southern manners, or, an entertaining ‘tall tale' on top of the fresh produce that keeps people coming back to Elko," said Jeanne Johnson, market manager.
Another market is located in the City of Barnwell Farmers Market at Fuller Park on Dunbarton Boulevard. It is now in its second season and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m.
"We want to promote healthy living," said market manager Dale Bragg, by giving residents a place to buy fresh produce.
The Barnwell market is sponsoring a Family Fun Night next Thursday, August 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. In addition to the normal vendors, there will be music, food, family entertainment, live animals, and activities.
This year marks the 15th Annual National Farmers Market Week recognizing the important role that farmers markets play in the agricultural and food economy.
Thousands of farmers markets across the country offer consumers fresh, affordable, convenient, and healthful products sold directly from the farm. They also offer additional market opportunities for local producers, especially smaller or newer operations. Farmers markets increasingly offer electronic benefits transfer technology that can be used by recipients of USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - as well as low-income women, infants, and children and seniors participating in the WIC and Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Programs - to get fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Farmers market development is a cornerstone of the USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, which coordinates the Department's policy, resources, and outreach efforts related to local and regional food systems. Secretary Vilsack has identified strengthening local food systems as one of the four pillars of USDA's commitment to rural economic development, along with production agriculture (including expanding export markets and improving research), promoting conservation and outdoor recreation opportunities, and growing the biobased economy.