This week is National Farmers Market Week, as proclaimed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
National Farmers Market Week has been celebrated for the past 15 years, and in that time, farmers markets have grown tremendously in popularity. Since then, the number of farmers markets has more than tripled from 2,863 to more than 8,000 in 2013, according to the Illinois Farmers Market Association.
Illinois is the third-largest state in terms of farmers markets, IFMA said. It ranks behind California and New York. There are more than 300 farmers markets in Illinois.
“Farmers markets support small family farms, boost the local economy, create local business and employment opportunities and promote diverse, sustainable farming operations across the country,” said Pat Stieren, executive director for IFMA.
That assessment is correct. Shopping at local farmers markets helps support local farmers. It keeps money local. Buying fresh fruits and vegetables offers many health benefits. Farmers markets have more to offer than fruits and vegetables. Vendors also sell jams, jellies, dressings, desserts, eggs, meat, honey and more.
Locally, there are many opportunities for you to visit a farmers market this week:
• Cary Farmers Market: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 28 in the north Metra commuter parking lot at High Road and West Main Street (off Route 14).
• Crystal Lake Farmers Market: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 11 at Depot Park (next to downtown train depot).
• Huntley Farmers Market: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 11 at 11704 Coral St. and around the town square.
• McHenry Farmers Market: 4 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through August at Veteran’s Memorial Park.
• Woodstock Farmers Market: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays through October on the Square.
A more detailed list and map of local farmers markets can be found at NWHerald.com. Search for farmers markets in McHenry County.
If you aren’t a regular visitor to a farmers market, use National Farmers Market Week as a good reason to check one out. You’ll be helping the local economy and local farmers, and you might just become a regular.