“As demand for local food continues to grow, so too have the opportunities for America’s farmers to market fresh food directly to the consumer,” said Randzio, adding that statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture indicate farmers markets and farm stands account for roughly $2 billion of the $3 billion that Americans spend annually on farm-direct products.
“This revenue, in turn, supports the livelihoods of more than 165,000 mostly small and mid-sized farms and ranches,” said Randzio. “Last season, SNAP customers alone spent $9,828 at the Westfield Farmers’ Market.”
“Through a private grant from an anonymous donor, the market gives an additional $5 per week to SNAP customers who purchase tokens at the market table,” said Randzio. “Some vendors also accept WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons.”
This Thursday on the grounds of the Episcopal Church of the Atonement, there will be musical entertainment all afternoon, featuring Dave Housman from noon to 2 p.m., Bobby D from 2 to 4 p.m., and Bernie Dion and Whiskey Traveler from 4 to 6 p.m. Also, recipes for an apple gorgonzola salad and balsamic chicken will be featured during a cooking demonstration at 3 p.m. Additionally, vendors will be offering free samples of their wares, special offers will be available on a multitude of products, and gift drawings are planned all afternoon.
“Close to 300 people attend the market each week, looking for fresh, healthy food at a reasonable price, and they enjoy the festive, community atmosphere of the market,” said Randzio. “Vendors report that their businesses flourish at this market and have encouraged other vendors to join, which explains why the market has almost quadrupled in size in three seasons of operation.”
Jen Cheek, executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition, echoed those sentiments in a statement.
“Farmers markets play a vital role not just in generating real income for farmers, but in forming a healthy, prosperous food system,” said Cheek. “By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets serve as education centers. Vendors are teaching customers about agriculture and sharing recipes and new foods with their neighbors. Markets are making people and communities stronger and healthier.”