Best sales year for Delaware farmers’ markets

 Farmers' Market in Wilmington (photo courtesy DE Dept. of Ag.)

Farmers' Market in Wilmington (photo courtesy DE Dept. of Ag.)

Shoppers spent more than $2 million at Delaware farmers’ markets in 2013, setting a new record.

It’s hard to imagine shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables outdoors at the Rodney Square farmers’ market in downtown Wilmington when the temperature is in the teens. But if this year is anything like last year, that’s what hundreds of Delawareans will do at more than two dozen farmers’ markets around the state.

Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee announced the record-setting sales totals for the 2013 farmers’ market season Tuesday morning in Dover. “This success is directly due to the leadership of our market managers and community leaders, and we want to help them expand and grow.”

Total sales at 26 markets in all three counties topped $2.1 million, an increase of $200,000 over 2012. Sales have nearly doubled since the 2010 season when 14 market sites had total sales of $1.3 million. Produce was the top seller in 2013, making up 62 percent of total sales. Other hot sellers include meats, cheeses, jellies, breads, salsa, eggs and honey.

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In addition to an expansion of locations over the past few years, the sales increase could also be attributed to the expanded use of the Electronic Benefits Transfer cards. Those cards allow residents to purchase local produce and other food items as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Wilmington Farmers Market at Cool Spring Park sold more than $9,000 worth of food via the SNAP cards.

And for Delawareans locked inside, hiding from the polar vortex, take heart. The first farmers’ market opens in Milton in just two months. The rest of the state’s markets traditionally set up shop around May or June.

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