AmericanFarmlandTrustkickso.cfm American Farmland Trust kicks off "America's Favorite Farmers Markets" contest"
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American Farmland Trust kicks off "America's Favorite Farmers Markets" contest

American Farmland Trust is pleased to announce its first vote for "America's Favorite Farmers Markets" contest. The contest is a nation-wide challenge to see which of America's 4,685 farmers markets can rally the most support from its customers. The goal is to promote the connection between fresh local food and the local farms and farmland that supply it.

"Farmers markets are one of the best ways for consumers to support local farms and farmers," says Julia Freedgood, Managing Director for American Farmland Trust's Growing Local Initiative. "A great way to find seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, farmers markets also support public health and economic development opportunities in our communities," she adds. The 2007 U.S. Census of Agriculture reports a 49 percent growth in sales from farms directly to consumers since 2002--representing $1.2 billon that stayed in local communities. But at the same time, more than one million acres of farmland are developed each year--most around cities where there is greatest demand for local food. "We need to make the connection: there's no local food without local farms and farmland," says Freedgood.

Many barriers stand in the way of scaling up local farm production to meet the burgeoning demand for local food. American Farmland Trust is working to support policies and programs to protect farmland, reduce barriers between farmers and consumers and encourage communities to plan for agriculture and regional food systems. "This contest is a way for consumers to show the pride they take in their local farmers' market and by extension the local farmers and communities that support them," says Freedgood.

Farmers market managers can register to join the contest by visiting www.farmland.org/marketmanager.

Market shoppers will vote to support their favorite farmers' market at www.farmland.org/vote starting in June. Results will be announced during Farmers' Market Week Aug. 2 to 8.

At the end of the contest, one large, medium, and small farmers market will win the title of "America's Favorite Farmers Market" for 2009. The reward will be a shipment of No Farms No Food tote bags for the winning market managers to distribute to the shoppers that made it happen.

Healthy Farms, Healthy Food, and Healthy Communities: It's what America needs! Find out more about American Farmland Trust's Growing Local initiative at www.farmland.org/local.



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