The growing season in western New York is underway, and that means fresh vegetables, fruit and other local food products are available at area farmers markets.
This season there are more farmers markets than ever in the Southern Tier Region with 16 different farmers markets in Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua counties. Farmers markets are an ideal way for consumers to meet the farmer and buy food directly from the producers, to learn helpful storage tips, get new recipe ideas and meet other community members during market days. The USDA reports the number of farmers markets in the U.S. has reached an all time high of over 7,800 markets. This reflects the national and local trends in higher demands for fresh local food, which is driven by consumers desiring to know how and where their food is grown, who are improving nutrition by choosing the freshest local food, and who value reinvestment in local economies by localizing their food purchases.
Many farmers markets are now equipped to accept electronic payments as well as SNAP and nutrition assistance program vouchers. Farmers markets bring a sense of vitality and vibrancy to a community, and many markets feature weekly live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, educational programs, children and family activities, taste tests and other engaging activities.
Locally, Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board serves Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties in developing local food system activities and has provided promotional and marketing assistance to the area's 16 farmers markets.
A complete listing of the farmers markets in the three-county region, including days, locations, products available and special event information can be found at a new website developed to promote all the local food activities in the region, FreshLocalWNY.org. The site will also soon feature details about the upcoming launch of the region's first local food branding program: From the Ground Up: Growing Health, Growing Community. Watch for more details soon and learn how to get a free reusable shopping bag at area farmers markets.
Local Chautauqua County communities with farmers markets in the region include: Dunkirk, Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon and Thursdays, 3 to 7 p.m.; Falconer, Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Fredonia, Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Jamestown, Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Lakewood, Tuesdays, 2 to 6 p.m.; Sherman, Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Westfield, Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information about farmers markets or other local food programs and activities, please contact Kimberly LaMendola at Southern Tier West at 945-530, x211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.