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California leads nation in farmers market boom - USDA report

August 3, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fresh fruits and vegetables are one of the draws at the Monrovia Family Festival and Farmers Market, and this year marks the event's 20th anniversary.

Famers markets like Monrovia's are now popping up all across the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday that the number of direct-sales markets has increased 9.6 percent in the last year, with California and New York leading the pack.

"I think people are becoming more and more conscious of getting produce from close to home and that sort of thing. And besides that, it tastes so much better," said Monrovia resident Jan Shimmin.

The number of famers markets registered with the USDA now tops 7,864. Eighteen years ago, there were just 1,744. Jaime Farms, a vendor at Monrovia's farmers market, sells at close to a dozen different farmers markets across Southern California as more consumers want locally grown fruits and vegetables.

"There are more now available to go to, unfortunately there's only a certain amount we can do with our workers. Business has grown in the last few years," said Lidia Jaime of Jaime Farms.

California, the country's top agricultural producing state, has 827 markets, according to the USDA. New York has 647, more than double the next most prolific state, Massachusetts, which has 313.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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