Farm fare


Appeal of farmers markets grows for right reasons.

Appeal of farmers markets grows for right reasons.

Local and area producers of all sorts of food — items ranging from fruits and vegetables to baked goods — have once again set up shop for a season of sales.

The 14th Annual Garden City Farmers Market opened for business Saturday, one of many such ventures to pop up in Kansas and beyond.

Locally, the farmers markets will be available to shoppers from 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday morning through Sept. 27 in the parking lot at the corner of Fleming Street and Harding Avenue.

The months-long run will deliver a literal cornucopia of choices, based on what's seasonal at the time.

Whether it's homegrown tomatoes, sweet corn, cantaloupe and other fruits and vegetables, or such homemade goodies as jams and jellies, and cakes and cookies, the offerings give folks plenty to choose from.

It's no wonder more farmers markets are sprouting up nationwide.

The number of farmers markets in the nation has grown steadily from 1,755 in 1994, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began tracking them, to more than 8,144 in 2013.

The actual number could be much higher, as some farmers markets in smaller communities and rural areas are more difficult to track.

USDA officials attribute the growth of farmers markets to consumers' interest in reconnecting with farmers and agriculture. More consumers see the value in buying local, as well as supporting their friends and neighbors who bring products to the market.

Kansas also has put more of an emphasis on ways to encourage farmers market activity.

Last year saw the Farmers' Markets Promotion Act signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback. The law called for giving farmers markets access to more marketing and promotion opportunities, as well as other benefits.

The measure also set up a central registry for farmers markets through the state Department of Agriculture. Those who register were to receive promotional and educational guidance intended to improve their events.

Aiding and advocating for farmers markets does indeed makes sense. Kansans who support the markets that give people a place to buy and sell tasty fare should find it easy to reap the many benefits.

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