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Would You Believe Farmers Markets Are Growing?

The number of farmers markets in the United States has more than doubled during the last 10 years to 6,132, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Not surprisingly, California has more farmers markets (580) than any other state. New York (460), Illinois (286), Michigan (271) and Iowa (229) complete the top five. Reviewing the numbers, I was surprised to see such a dearth of farmers markets in the South. North Carolina was the only southern state among the top 10. Florida and Texas – which rank fourth and second in population, respectively, and which both have huge agriculture industries – only have about as many farmers markets as little old Oregon.

At least that’s according to the USDA. However, if you test the agency’s farmers market search page, you’ll encounter some discrepancies. The results for a search on “Shasta County,” for example, included no mention of the Sunday morning market at Turtle Bay, the Thursday markets at the Shasta District Fair grounds and in Bella Vista, or the Friday afternoon market in Cottonwood. Yet there are listings for an “Anderson Happy Valley Farmers Market” (with no address or contact information) and a “Redding Gardener’s Farmers Market.” To the best of my knowledge, neither of those farmers markets actually exists.

The most comprehensive list of Shasta County farmers markets is on the Healthy Shasta website.

Although I’m picking nits with the USDA’s exact figures, there is no denying that the number of farmers markets is increasing rapidly. To that, I say hooray.

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• Speaking of produce, here’s an interesting concept I read about in the Fresno Bee: Backyard gardeners gather to swap their excess produce. Have more cucumbers than you know what do with? Trade some of them for your neighbor’s onions. If you can’t find any takers by the end of the gathering, just give away the excess to a food pantry or people in need. Is this an idea we could pull off in the Redding area?

• People who ride the bus regularly already know this, but … Redding Area Bus Authority (RABA) patrons are eligible for big prizes every time they ride this bus through the rest of August. Sponsors are giving away gift cards, meals, movie passes and more. The grand prize, donated by Clyde’s, is a 42-inch, high-definition plasma television. You may enter the “Ride and Win” contest every time you board a RABA bus. Details at the RABA website.

• A free anger management/stress reduction workshop is scheduled for next Thursday, August 26, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Golden Umbrella Board Room, 200 Mercy Oaks Drive, off College View Drive, in Redding. Tom Wright of Wright Education will lead the brown bag lunchtime session. For details, contact Susan Howland Thompson at sthompsonlcsw@yahoo.com. And while you’re there, check out Golden Umbrella’s open house, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the 26th.

Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and has eaten zucchini every day for the past month. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at pauls.anewscafe@gmail.com.