CHARLESTON, W.Va. – It’s National Farmers Market Week.
Doug O’Brien, the acting Undersecretary of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development, was in West Virginia on Wednesday to celebrate the event.
O’Brien toured the once-a-week farmers market at the state capitol and then the Capitol Farmers Market in downtown Charleston.
“It’s a great example of what farmer’s markets can mean for communities, what it can mean for rural economies, what it can mean for access to healthy and nutritious food for people in the cities and towns,” explained O’Brien.
There are currently about 8,200 farmers markets in the U.S. 89 of those are in West Virginia. They offer everything from corn to cabbage, peaches to potatoes, green beans to black berries. O’Brien stressed that’s the kind of produce variety that makes for healthy meals and in a lot of cases healthy businesses.
“We look at interest by consumers and institutions to buy food from producers that are close to them, that they know the story about that food, that they know the people that grew that food. This can include schools. It can include hospitals. It can even include retail grocery stores,” he said.
The U.S.D.A. is doing its part to promote West Virginia grown food.
“We’ve been able to invest in over 40 projects right here in West Virginia that support local and regional food systems,” said O’Brien. “We’re glad to do it because the outcomes really mean a lot to people here in West Virginia.”
The number of farmers markets are up across the county in the past six years by 76 percent. O’Brien is confident that can grow even larger with local, state and federal support.