Last month, Delaware celebrated the second highest farmers’ market season with more than $3 million dollars in sales in 2017. Both residents and visitors of the state continue to buy locally because of the fresh, high quality products that Delaware’s farm families grow.
“These numbers are a reflection of the positive relationship that Delaware residents and those visiting our state have with our family farmers,” said Secretary Michael T. Scuse. “Consumers know food purchased at our farmers’ market are grown locally, picked fresh, and delivered that day by the farm. Not only do they have the opportunity to learn how their food is grown directly from Delaware farmers, but they are able to make a positive impact on the economy by keeping it local.”
At the Riverwalk Farmers Market in Downtown Milford during the 2017 season, vendors made just over $119,000.00 with an average of 18 vendors and 330 shoppers per week. This was despite two weekends being cancelled due to weather. The market also took in $3,391.00 in WIC coupons and $197.00 in SNAP.
“We may have been one of the top supporters of the WIC Farmers Market program,” said Melissa Pingue Market Committee Chair. “This program provides fifteen dollars in coupons to Women and children in our community currently on WIC that can be spent on fresh local fruits and vegetables at local Farmers Markets.”
Pingue believe the growing economy has been the biggest factor in the success of last year’s market and that the expanded advertising of proper nutrition has helped boost sales as well. “People want to know where their food comes from, how it was created and want to support local farmers and businesses,” said Pingue. “Having local entertainment helps add to the hometown feel of the market and people notice things like that. We also give the Food Bank of Delaware a spot in the market to continue their community education program and other non-profits have been scheduled for certain days as well. We like to help wherever we can especially if it is serving the community.”
Planning for the 2018 season during this winter, the committee has already secured 3 new vendors that sell a variety of products including Goat Milk Soap, Handmade toys and Homemade Fudge. “Of course our main farmers will be attending and many of the vendors that have been with us for years,” said Pingue. “We are always looking for new vendors or local businesses that have handmade or home grown products that fit into the markets realm of keeping things local.”
The market began approximately 14 years ago when several downtown merchants decided it would be an interesting addition to the downtown area. The market eventually became part of Downtown Milford, Inc. (DMI), and was operated by Jim Cooper for several years before his retirement. During Jim’s oversight, the market expanded to include not only local produce and farm items but arts and crafts as well. In recent years a Riverwalk Farmers Market Committee, consisting of several Milford residents, has been organized to carry out the logistics and activities associated with the market.
“I am excited every year when the market committee starts planning out the season. I’m just hoping to see all of our loyal vendors return, can’t wait to meet new vendors and customers and really want to invite local merchants to get involved in the market,” Pingue said. “Every week we have at least one new person who visits our market that says it is their very first time and they fall in love. To see the look on their face and get the praise from the community on the look and feel of the market. That makes those of us who volunteer on the committee very proud of the job we do. It is a great honor to bring such a wonderful event downtown each week.”
This year’s Riverwalk Farmers’ Market will be open May 5 to October 6 from 9am to 1pm every Saturday on the Mispillion River off Walnut Street in downtown Milford. Anyone interested in a vendor application can email the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Downtown Milford Inc office at 302-839-1180.
“The market brings the community together for one day a week where they can visit with their neighbors, meet new people and rediscover their town,” said Pingue. “So much happens downtown that people are not aware of and new businesses are opening all the time. Hopefully we are able to provide a service and a connection to the town that keeps people coming back downtown other days of the week.”
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