FREDERICK — The West Frederick Farmers Market was recently voted third favorite market in the state and 15th in the nation in the American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest for 2011.
The market, held Saturday on Baughman’s Lane off U.S. 40, placed in the top 20 small markets in the country.
This was the second year the West Frederick group entered the contest, which ended Aug. 31. American Farmland Trust holds the annual contest to raise national awareness of the importance of buying fresh food from local farms and saving farmland where it’s grown.
The market, Frederick’s largest, has 20 vendors of local and regional products, including produce, meats, crafts and baked goods, and is classified as a “small” market in the AFT competition.
“We appreciate the great support from our customers, and the vendors at West Frederick who have voted our customers the best in the country,” said the market’s president, Danny Rohrer.
The Bethesda and Chestertown markets were voted first and second favorite small markets in Maryland.
“The Chestertown market has beaten us big time last year and this year,” market manager Wendy Barth said. “I’m going to have to go over there and take a look. Are they voting early and often, or what?”
The West Frederick market, which opened in 1993, has seen a steady increase of customers over time, said Barth, who also manages the Everedy Square and Shab Row farmers market.
Barth credits the vendors and customers for a great market.
“I am just the on-site manager and contact person,” Barth said. “Danny, our president, has done most of the work for the market for the past couple of years. Linda Norris, whom we hired this year for marketing and social media, has been outstanding, and she definitely helped bring in the votes.”
According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, more than 120 farmers markets across the state provide consumers with fresh, local produce and new avenues for producers to market their harvest.
Buying local products is important for Maryland farmers and the state’s economy.
“If every household in Maryland spent just $10 of their weekly food budget on Maryland ag products — vegetables, fruit, milk, cheese, wine, beef, chicken — it would increase the agriculture economy by $1.144 billion a year,” Alison Howard of Homestead Farms in Millington said in a statement. “Currently, with a $1.6 billion ag industry, one in seven jobs is farm-related. Buying $10 per week would essentially double that, necessitating more hiring and definitely increasing the purchase of products we need to run our farms.”
American Farmland Trust works to save America’s farm and ranch land, promotes environmentally sound farming practices and supports a sustainable future for farms.