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It’s prime time for fresh, healthy produce as Executive celebrates region’s farmers markets

With August harvests bringing a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, King County Executive Dow Constantine today urged residents to support local farming in a fun, healthy, delicious way – by spending food dollars at one of King County’s 41 farmers markets, including the Maple Valley Farmers Market.

“It’s prime time for produce, and part of what makes King County such a great place to live is our local farms and the fresh healthy produce they bring to our neighborhood farmers markets,” said Executive Constantine, as he proclaimed Aug. 5-11 as Farmers Market Week in King County.

August brings the largest variety of fruits and vegetables of the year, according to King County farm specialist Steve Evans, including a great assortment of berries, early ripening varieties of apples and pears, plus corn, peppers and greens. King County farmers also raise pork, beef and chicken, and craft their own artisan cheese and other dairy products that can be matched with fresh produce to make a great meal, he said.

“Our farmers markets are amazing all season long, but harvests are really kicking up a notch now. August is just a tremendous time to visit your local farmers market, find delicious, nutritious food and talk directly to the farmer who grew it,” said Evans.

The Executive said farmers markets are important economic engines for hundreds agricultural producers, generating more than $20 million in King County income each year. They provide a critical link between urban communities and the region’s farms, strengthen neighborhood business districts, and serve as incubators for small business, he said.

“Buying local foods makes our local agriculture industry stronger,” said Executive Constantine. “We now have more than 250 farmers from all over Washington selling at county farmers markets. More than 100 are King County farmers. Supporting farmers markets helps our local family farms stay in a business that adds to our quality of life.”

Card-carrying shoppers also now have more ways to use their credit, debit, Electronic Benefit Transfer food stamp cards for fresh produce at 21 farmers markets in King County.

“Farmers markets offer some of the freshest, healthiest food available, and we want to make that nutrition available to everyone,” said the Executive.

In each of their communities, farmers markets are also partnering with local food banks and meals programs to provide healthy food to those in need. In 2011, King County farmers markets supported local anti-hunger initiatives through the donation of 57 tons of unsold food.

For a list of farmers markets and farms in King County, visit www.pugetsoundfresh.org.

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