Massachusetts big on farm-fresh goods: Ranks 6th in farmers markets

Aug 3 2014

Boston Herald. August 3, 2014. By Marie Szaniszlo.

Massachusetts has the sixth-largest number of farmers markets in the nation, as farmers turn to new venues to supplement their incomes and consumers seek out ways to buy fresh, local food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s newly updated National Farmers Market Directory.

Over the past year alone, the number of farmers markets in the state has risen 5.9 percent to 306, just behind California, New York, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, Anne Alonzo, administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, said as she kicked off National Farmers Market Week.

“The growth of farmers markets and the buy-local movement is a reflection of citizens wanting to know where their food comes from, who grew it and how, combined with a genuine interest in supporting local agriculture,” said Greg Watson, state Department of Agricultural Resources commissioner.

Since 2006, federal Farmers Market Promotion Program grants totaling more than $1 million have funded 15 Massachusetts projects, Alonzo said.

And now, it’s easier than ever to find them. The National Farmers Market Directory ( lists 8,268 markets, a 76 percent increase since 2008, and allows people to search by zip code and product mix, as well as providing directions and operating times.

Farmers markets “bring urban and rural communities together while creating economic growth and increasing access to fresh, healthy foods,” Alonzo said.

Bob Marshall of Marshall’s Farm in Gloucester said about 30 percent of his income comes from farmers markets, where he has been selling produce and honey for the past five years.

“It’s a great way to sell what you grow because not everybody can drive to a farm,” Marshall said. “This way, I can bring fresh produce to the city, and I can help a person eat better and get healthy.”

One of his regulars at the Allston Village Farmers Market is Lisa Drayton, who has lost 50 pounds in the year since she started going.

“I went from being the takeout queen to making everything myself,” said Drayton, 47, of Brighton. “I love being able to ask the farmers questions, like do they use pesticides or GMOs. I also like knowing I’m supporting the local economy. I’m helping these little guys. And they’re helping me.”



Jul 2024