Governor Ned Lamont is urging Connecticut residents to support local farmers during National Farmers Market Week – which runs from August 1 to 7, 2021 – by purchasing locally grown products designated with the Connecticut Grown logo and visiting some of the more than 90 certified farmers markets statewide.
Now in its 22nd year, National Farmers Market Week highlights the vital role that farmers' markets play in the nation’s food system. The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that local food systems with short supply chains are resilient, and farmers' markets keep communities connected while addressing food insecurity by offering programs for the most vulnerable residents to access fresh, nutritious, local foods.
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture administers the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), which assists seniors over the age of 60 and women, infants, and children who meet certain eligibility guidelines with assistance to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, cut herbs, and honey. These individuals can redeem vouchers at certified farmers’ markets or farm stands throughout the state. Many farmers’ markets also participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, with some offering doubling benefits. Nationwide, SNAP benefits redeemed at farmers’ markets increased by 50% over 2019. It is estimated that for every dollar of nutrition incentives spent on farm direct purchases it results in a contribution of up to three dollars to the U.S. economy.
While farmers' markets fuel local economies, they also provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for new farmers and food entrepreneurs. There are 3.5 times as many U.S. farmers over the age of 65 as there are under 35. For young and beginning farmers, direct marketing through Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) and farmers’ markets make up the majority of their income.
Connecticut’s agriculture industry generates an impact of $4 billion on the state’s economy and fosters more than 21,000 jobs. There are more than 200 certified farmers or farm stands selling fruits, vegetables, and honey with nearly 750 farmers selling all types of Connecticut Grown farm products, including meat, dairy, shellfish, flowers, and fiber at markets in more than 50% of the state’s municipalities.