South Carolina celebrated Farmers Market Week after Governor Mark Sanford proclaimed the week of Aug. 6-12 for the observance.

Fresh tomatoes, green peppers, sweet corn, cucumbers, leafy greens, peaches, melons, and much more are available for South Carolina families to buy at the Palmetto State’s 66 local farmers markets, as well as the three state farmers markets.

“Farmers markets offer consumers a place to buy fresh South Carolina quality fruits and vegetables grown just down the road,” South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers says. “Many markets also sell meats, sauces, preserves, plants, cut flowers and other products. Farmers market customers get to meet the people who produce the food, and they keep their food dollars close to home.”

“Your local farmers market is a great place to teach children about the origin of their food,” said Commissioner Weathers. “Ask the farmers questions. They are passionate about their products and would love to talk about them. Look for recipes. Try something new. Above all, enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of your local farmers market.”

Economists say that a $100,000 increase in farm sales creates up to five new jobs and generates another $200,000 in economic activity. “When people buy from farmers markets, they add to the farm income and help them stay in farming instead of selling their land for development,” Commissioner Weathers said.

“It also helps the environment because their food travels a short distance to get to the market.”

More than 3,800 farmers markets operate throughout the nation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports. USDA estimates nationwide farmers market sales at more than $1 billion.

Commissioner Weathers asks the people of South Carolina to connect with their agricultural roots by visiting their local farmers market or stop by one of the three state farmers markets. “Discover the wide variety of fruits and vegetables as well as plants, flowers, and other agricultural products available. Make it an outing for your family and friends.”