Tuesday August 06, 2013 | 07:06 AM

National Farmers' Market Week

It is National Farmers' Market Week (August 4-10) and the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets  is asking you to spend an extra $10 at your local farmers’ market this week.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that 8,144 farmers markets are now listed in the USDA's National Farmers’ Market Directory, up from about 5,000 in 2008. Local food and direct marketing opportunities, including farmers' markets, are one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture. According to the latest Census of Agriculture, direct sales of food products from farmers to individual consumers rose by nearly 50 percent between 2002 and 2007. Worth an estimated $1 billion in 2005, local food sales grew to $4.8 billion in 2007 and nearly $7 billion last year, according to industry estimates.

"Farmers’ markets are an important public face for agriculture and a critical part of our nation's food system," said Secretary Tom Vilsack. "They provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also help fill a growing consumer demand for fresh, healthy foods. In recent years, USDA has stepped up efforts to support local and regional marketing opportunities for producers, including a modernized Farmer's Market Directory to help connect farmers, consumers, communities, and businesses around the country."

5th Annual Backyard Locavore Day

University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Cumberland County will hold the fifth annual Backyard Locavore Day, a self-guided tour of multiple gardens in Cumberland County, on Saturday, August 10, 2013 between 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., rain or shine.

Backyard Locavore Day is designed to educate members of the public about do-it-yourself strategies for becoming a locavore, or someone who eats food grown or produced locally. Every year, people grow, raise, harvest and preserve foods in a sustainable way to meet individual food needs.

Demonstrations and talks will focus on gardening methods including vegetable and square-foot gardening, backyard composting, greenhouses, beekeeping and backyard poultry. Each garden session also will feature specific food-preservation methods such as drying, hot-water-bath canning and making herbal vinegars and jam, with complementary food samples.

Funds raised will go toward the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Cumberland County Food Preservation Program.

Registration is $15 in advance and $20 the day of the event; children under 12 get in free. Registrants will receive a booklet describing each site and a map showing specific locations. For more information or to order tickets go here

Image of a home in Scarborough by Kelly Ash

About this Blog

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About the Author

Sharon Kitchens is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She writes about bees for The Huffington Post and stuff she loves on her personal blog, deliciousmusings.com.

When she is not writing, she enjoys edible gardening, reading books on food and/or thinking about food, hanging out by her beehives and patiently tracking down her chickens in the woods behind her old farmhouse.

In her blog, Sharon profiles farm families, reports on farm-based education and internships, conducts Q&A's with master beekeepers, offers tips on picking a CSA, and much more.

Sharon can be contacted at kitchens.sharon@gmail.com or on Twitter @deliciousmusing.

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