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Government officials turn out to promote farmers markets

PRESCOTT – Farmers markets are growing in popularity throughout the United States.

More than 3,000 farmers markets take place throughout the country, including more than 45 in Arizona, said Shanti Leinow, manager of the Prescott Farmers Market.

Leinow, herself a farmer who grows chilis, lettuce, squash, onions, tomatoes and other vegetables in the Chino Valley area, promoted farmers markets Saturday morning in a press conference in observance of National Farmers' Market and Arizona Farmers' Market weeks. The Prescott Farmers Market, in its eighth year, takes place Saturdays from May through October at Cortez and Goodwin streets.

State Sen. Ken Bennett and state Rep. Lucy Mason, both Republicans from Prescott, Prescott City Councilman Jim Lamerson, and county and state officials also spoke.

The Prescott Farmers Market promotes good nutrition by enabling people to buy healthy foods, Leinow said. She added that the market features cooking demonstrations and enables high school students who belong to Future Farmers of America to sell drinks to raise money for their projects.

The market encourages low-income families and seniors 60 and older to buy fruits and vegetables under the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, according to Peter Schlichting, nutrition director for Yavapai County Community Health Services.

He said vendors who display purple tags indicate that they accept coupon books from recipients of the Women, Infants and Children program.

Lamerson, a jeweler, said he wants the farmers market to stay downtown. The farmers market is seeking another location next year in response to complaints from some nearby business owners about a shortage of parking spaces on Saturdays.

Leinow said, "We do want to find a permanent home for the farmers market."

Before the press conference, she said she is considering locations such as Washington School and the Sharlot Hall Museum.

The farmers market now has 35 vendors, Leinow said. Vendors sell fresh produce and vegetables, tamales, baked goods and other products.

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