Photo by Rachael Brugger
Tomatoes, asparagus, sweet potatoes and strawberries are just a few of many products brought fresh to local markets by farmers who represent the true heritage of America. Yet, the fresh delicious bounty found at farmers’ markets each week might be at the greatest risk of being lost as farmland is consumed by sprawl and development.
As a farmer or farmers’ market shopper, you can show your support for your favorite market through America Farmland Trust’s “I Love My Farmers Market” celebration. The campaign, in its fifth year, aims to raise awareness about the nation’s bountiful farmers’ markets and honor the hardworking family farmers who deliver the harvest to the markets each week. During the summer-long event, you can pledge your support for family farmers by shopping directly from them throughout the season. A pledge, made through AFT’s website, is a commitment to spend $10 at your local farmers’ market the week the pledge is made, and you can return to the AFT website weekly to make their pledge.
The goal is to collect $1 million in pledges to shop at farmers’ markets before the celebration concludes at midnight on Sept. 9, 2013. With six weeks still left to go in the campaign, AFT has nearly reached that goal. As of July 26, 2013, the top-five states with the most dollars pledged to local farmers’ markets include California ($9,780), Georgia ($7,260), New York ($6,520), Ohio ($5,290) and Virginia ($4,810).
“The ‘I Love My Farmers Market’ celebration is about celebrating the unique qualities of farmers’ markets throughout the nation and the important role that these markets play in keeping family farmers on the land,” says Susan Sink, AFT’s vice president of external affairs.
The celebration is part of AFT’s “No Farms No Food” campaign. Nationwide, the food and farming system contributes nearly $1 trillion to the national economy. According to the most recent National Resources Inventory, the U.S. is losing nearly 1 million acres of farmland every year. For these reasons and more, conserving and protecting farmland for future generations is something we can all celebrate.
Farmers’ markets provide the vital link between shoppers and the family farmers growing our food and as such highlight the importance of protecting farmland. For your first pledge, you’ll receive one of AFT’s free “No Farms No Food” bumper stickers to show support for struggling family farmers and raise awareness about development that is paving over America’s farm and ranch land. Once an acre of farmland is paved over, it is lost forever.
American Farmland Trust is the only national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices, and keeping farmers on the land. Since its founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect more than 5 million of acres of farmland.
To see where your favorite farmers’ market ranks in the country’s most-loved farmers’ markets and to make a pledge, visit the AFT website.