In recognition of National Farmers Market Week, American Farmland Trust launched an online leader board revealing the top 20 farmers markets that are leading the America's Favorite Farmers Markets contest. The board tracks up-to-the-minute standings during the final month of voting, which closes at midnight on Labor Day, Sept. 3. The leader board is available at www.votemyfarmersmarket.org.
According to the USDA, the number of farmers markets listed in its National Farmers Market Directory has increased by 9.6%over the past year, from 7,175 markets in 2011 to 7,864 in 2012.
"The continued growth in farmers markets is terrific for family farmers and everyone who enjoys buying fresh, locally-grown food," said American Farmland Trust President Jon Scholl.
The goal of American Farmland Trust's fourth annual America's Favorite Farmers Markets contest is to highlight the role that farmers markets play in keeping family farmers on the land. The summer long contest is a nationwide challenge to see which markets can rally the most votes from their customers. At the end of the contest, four winning markets—one small, one medium, one mid-size, and one large—will receive the title of America's Favorite Farmers Market for 2012.
"Farmers markets connect people who enjoy fresh, seasonal produce with the farmers who grow it," Scholl continued. "America has been losing more than an acre of farm and ranch land every minute to development. Farmers markets play a critical role by helping to keep family farmers in business and keep farmland in agricultural production."
In concert with America's Favorite Farmers Markets contest, farmers can submit an essay to win the Farmers Market Inspiration Award. The $1,000 grand prize will be awarded to a farmer-producer with an essay illustrating why farmers markets matter to their farm, family, and community. Runner up prizes will also be awarded.
According to the contest rules, people can vote for as many participating farmers markets as they choose, but can only vote for each market once. For more information about the America's Favorite Farmers Markets contest or to vote, visit www.votemyfarmersmarket.org.