American Farmland Trust (AFT) is pleased to announce its 2010 “America’s Favorite Farmers Markets” online contest kicks off on June 1 at http://www.farmland.org/vote. The contest is a nation-wide challenge to see which farmers markets can rally the most support from its customers. The goal is to promote the connection between fresh local food and the local farms and farmland that supply it.
“Farmers markets are one of the best ways for consumers to support local farms and farmers,” says Julia Freedgood, Managing Director for Farmland and Communities. “Markets are a great place to purchase seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. And maintaining farmers markets and farms also benefits the public health and economic health of our communities,” she adds. The 2007 U.S. Agricultural Census reports a 49% growth in sales from farms directly to consumers since 2002-representing $1.2 billon that stayed in local communities. But at the same time, nearly one million acres of farmland are developed each year – most around cities where there is greatest demand for local food. “We need to make the connection: there’s no local food without local farms and farmland,” says Freedgood.
Many barriers stand in the way of scaling up local farm production to meet the burgeoning demand for local food. American Farmland Trust is working to support policies and programs to protect farmland, reduce barriers between farmers and consumers and encourage communities to plan for agriculture and regional food systems. “This contest is a way for consumers to show the pride they take in their local farmers’ market and by extension the local farmers and communities that support them,” says Freedgood.
Farmers market managers can register to join the free contest by visiting http://www.farmland.org/marketmanager
Market shoppers will vote to support their favorite farmers market at http://www.farmland.org/vote starting June 1 until midnight on August 31, 2010. People can vote for as many participating farmers markets as they choose, but can only vote for each market once.
At the end of the contest, one small, medium, large, and a new category, boutique, farmers market will win the title of “America’s Favorite Farmers Market” for 2010. The reward for the winning market in each category will be a shipment of No Farms No Food® tote bags, along with other prizes including free printing services from http://www.igreenprint.com/ and free graphic design services from Virginia based design firm, SQN Communications. The categories are based on the number of vendors the local farmers market has.
Healthy Farms, Healthy Food, and Healthy Communities: It’s what America needs! Find out more about American Farmland Trust’s Growing Local initiative at http://www.farmland.org/local.
American Farmland Trust is a national organization working with communities and individuals to protect the land, plan for agriculture and keep the land healthy. AFT’s national headquarters is located in Washington, DC. Phone: 202-331-7300.
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For more information, visit Farmland.org