Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is encouraging Iowans to take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables available at the more than 230 farmers markets in Iowa as part of National Farmers Market Week, which ran from August 5 to 11. Northey also last week highlighted the free Iowa Farmers Market app for smartphones that can help Iowans the farmers markets in their area.
"Farmers markets are a great place to find fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables that are nutritious and delicious," Northey said. "The extremely dry weather this summer has been a challenge for all farmers, including those that sell at our farmers market, but markets remain well stocked with fresh produce, locally raised meat and many other products."
These markets continue to grow as people want fresh, locally-grown produce
Farmers markets continue to grow in popularity as Iowans seek fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. An Iowa farmers market survey completed for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship showed that market sales have increased an average of 18% per year from 2004 to 2009. It also showed that Iowa markets had $38.4 million in direct sales in 2009 and a $71 million impact on Iowa's economy.
To help support the more than 230 farmers markets in Iowa, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship recently unveiled an Iowa Farmers Market App for both iPhones and Android smartphones.
The app allows users to find the farmers market closest to them by using GPS location services or to search for specific farmers markets by city or zip code. Once they have located a market, the user can view the hours of the market, browse a list of vendors and see a phone number and email address of the market manager. App users can also leave reviews of the market and vendors and upload their photos to share with others.
Free app can be used with smartphones to help people locate farmers markets
"This app will make farmers markets easier to find and give visitors useful information as they plan their trip," Northey said. "I hope Iowans take advantage and enjoy this fresh produce and use this app to help them locate a market."
The app is free to download and is available through Apple's App store and Google Play by searching "Iowa Farmers Markets." The app for android phones can also be found here, and the link for Apple devices is here.
The app was developed for the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship using funds from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Grant funds are targeted for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops that benefit the entire specialty crop industry.
"Iowa has seen tremendous growth in the number and size of farmers markets and as a result we are seeing more farmers interested in raising fruits and vegetables and marketing them locally at a farmers market," Northey notes. "Many customers are using new technology to connect with farmers and learn more about food and we hope this app helps them do that."