Governor: Check out your local farmers market for ‘quality and diversity’

With nearly all of Connecticut’s 130 farmers markets now open for the season, including the one in Shelton, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is encouraging residents to eat healthy while supporting their local growers and economy by visiting one.

“We all know that there is no substitute for fresh, locally-grown food,” said Malloy, who visits farmers markets in the Hartford area, where he lives in the governor’s residence.

“Right now is the time to take advantage of the incredible quality and diversity of products being offered at farmers markets across our state,” he said.

From corn to blueberries

Local sweet corn is now in season, as well as blueberries, raspberries and many vegetables, according to a release from the governor’s office.

Other farm products such as honey, jams, soaps, baked goods, eggs, cheeses and meats can also be found at many of the markets.

The Shelton Farmers Market, on Canal Street downtown near the Riverwalk, is open Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 3-5 p.m. through early November.

Increasing number of farms and markets

The number of state farmers markets has roughly doubled in the last decade as demand for local products has risen. Connecticut leads New England in the number of new farms created in recent years, Malloy said.

Shelton has a number of active farms of different sizes, producing a variety of products.

Agriculture contributes about $3.5 billion into Connecticut’s economy and represents about 28,000 jobs.

Malloy said the state has many programs to boost agriculture, such as the Farmland Preservation Program that protects existing farms from development and the Farmland Restoration Program, which puts more acres into active production through grants that help farmers clear overgrown, fallow land.

Markets are a ‘showcase’

Steven K. Reviczky, state agriculture commissioner, said farmers markets “are the showcase for the exceptional fruits and vegetables and other farm products being offered by our growers.

“The increased interest in local food and the state’s solid support system for our farm families means consumers can find a market in just about any urban, suburban or rural community,” Reviczky said.