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Delaware farmers' markets continue to grow in popularity

James Morrison
Delaware Public Media

Spring is still about two months away, but farmers and growers are already getting ready for the First State’s 2020 farmers’ market season.

And those markets are looking to build on a banner year last year.

“We had a great year in 2019 with 19 farmers’ markets across the State, with record sales since the first time since 2015 we’ve broken this record - and we are close to $3.28 million in sales,” said Stacey Hofmann,chief of community relations for Delaware’s Department of Agriculture.


And Hoffman believes those sales numbers tell a story about what Delawareans want.


"Really what that’s telling us is that the consumer wants to know their local farmer, they want to know where their food comes from and they’re willing to shop outside of the grocery store and visit a farmer’s market and get that experience - one-on-one with a farmer," Hoffmann said.


Hofmann adds that experience helps fuel the ongoing popularity of farmers’ markets.


“Ninety-nine percent of Delaware farms are family run. And it’s that connection that people have to learn about the produce that the farmer has grown, how to come home and feed it to the family and realize that that farmer is feeding that same fruits and vegetables to their own family and it’s just a nice community connection,” said Hoffman.

Hofmann notes fresh produce made up 57% of local sales at the state’s farmers’ markets last year, with the remainder coming from products such as meats, cheeses, jellies, breads, salsa, eggs and honey.

She says most markets reopen in April, and all are operating by June.

Hofmann adds there may be a few more farmer’s markets this season; the Ag. Department is talking to a few cities and towns about hosting them.

Hofmann adds 14 markets operating last year participated in the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and the Women, Infants, and Children Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Both programs had their highest participation since Delaware began offering the benefits.