This past Tuesday, Legislative Hall was bursting with pints of red, ripe, Delaware-grown strawberries and tray after tray of strawberry cake. It was a sweet reminder that we are officially in the midst of the 2012 market season.
First to open this year was the Milton Farmers’ Market, which transforms a small park in downtown Milton into a modern-day open-air market, with great locally grown fruits and vegetables fresh from the farm. And that’s just one example – this year, we’re celebrating a record 27 markets in total, including 12 brand-new sites all across the state, from Wilmington to Selbyville.
They are also local gathering places; where friends can catch up with each other and neighbors can make new friends. There’s no better way to get to know your community than chatting with people about food, sharing recipes and tips over a basket of apples or a bag of zucchini.
The markets certainly help support our hard-working Delaware farmers and producers. Last year’s season brought in $1.8 million worth of business.
Yet they also provide a connection between consumer and producer that is vitally important today. There is no substitute for talking one-on-one with the farmer or farm family members who grew the tomatoes you’ll be making into spaghetti sauce tonight, the peaches your children will be enjoying in their lunchboxes at school tomorrow or the watermelon your entire family can enjoy as a delicious summer treat. The more Delawareans know about how their food comes to their table – much of it grown and raised here in the First State – the better off we all are.
Delaware’s farmers’ markets are also a symbol of how our communities remain strong. While the Department of Agriculture provides support and coordination, the markets are all run locally, sponsored by community groups, organizations and municipal governments.
To find a farmers’ market near you, along with opening dates and times, please visit www.dda.delaware.gov. I hope you enjoy your friendship, fellowship and food at our markets this year.