In time for National Farmers Market Week, which runs through Aug. 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that more than 1,000 new farmers markets have been counted across the country. According to the 2011 National Farmers Market Directory, released by USDA, the number of markets in America rose from 6,132 in 2010 to 7,175 this year, an increase of about 17 percent.

USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said farmers markets are critical ingredients in the nation’s food system. “The remarkable growth in farmers markets is an excellent indicator of the staying power of local and regional foods,” she said in a news release. “These outlets provide economic benefits for producers to grow their businesses and also to communities by providing increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other foods.” 

The online National Farmers Market Directory allows users to search for markets based on location, available products and types of payment accepted, including participation in federal nutrition programs. Additionally, new features allow directory users to locate markets based on proximity to ZIP code and to see links to active farmers market websites. 

According to USDA, several states have experienced rapid growth in farmers markets since 2010. Alaska and Texas ranked at the top for most growth in farmers markets, at 46 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

The 10 states with the most recorded farmers markets in 2011 are:

California (729 markets)
New York (520)
Michigan (349)
Illinois (305)
Ohio (278)
Pennsylvania (266)
Massachusetts (255)
Iowa (237)
Wisconsin (231)
North Carolina (217) 

Do you support your local farmers market?