Federal Grants Aim To Boost Farmer's Markets


By Nick Hausen

BENTON -- The weather's warming up and farmers markets are starting to pop up across the region. Now, those markets are being encouraged to go after federal grant money meant to promote healthy, and locally grown food.

"It not only encourages people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, but it encourages growers who need that support, to have the customers to come and buy," said Benton Farmer's Market chairman Mary Bolen.

Bolen wants southern Illinois residents to know the benefit of buying from local farmers.

"When I take peaches or apples to the farmers market, they've travelled eight miles," explained Bolen. "They've stayed on the tree until they're ready to be picked, they're ripe, they're ready and they're sweet and juicy."

All growers and farmers markets are being urged to apply for the federal grant which will dole out ten million dollars.

"It seems that the market is there, that people who want to buy the food are there and making those connections, particularly if they involve storage of food and transportation of food," said Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon.

Keeping more produce in Illinois can only help our economy.

"You know, we spend a lot of money as consumers in the state, the vast majority of it goes to food that was grown outside the state of Illinois," said Simon.

Farmer's markets are in many southern Illinois towns, and this grant is sure to start up a few more.
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