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May 16, 2008

Gov. Blagojevich announces Illinois Products Farmers’ Market
Illinois vendors to showcase homegrown produce to help residents deal with rising food costs

SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the 2008 Illinois Products Farmers’ Market to support local farmers, while also providing consumers with fresh, locally grown produce and relief from the rising costs of food.  The market will be open each Thursday, June 26 through October 30, with the exception of August 7 and August 14, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Commodities Pavilion on the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
“Illinois is the leading producer of commodities like corn and soybeans, but we also produce specialty crops like apples, peaches, tomatoes and green beans,” Gov. Blagojevich said.  “This evening market will enable Illinois farmers to spread the word about the availability of locally-grown produce and help fulfill our growing demand for fresh fruits and vegetables.”

In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, the market will provide many types of Illinois food products including homemade jams and jellies, baked goods, processed foods, meat items & Illinois wines.  Any “Illinois (food) Product” can be sold at the market.

Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins and horseradish in the nation and ranks among the top ten states in the production of the specialty crops such as asparagus, cauliflower, fresh cut herbs, green peas, lima beans, mustard greens and snap peas.  According to the 2003 Illinois Specialty Crop Survey, more than 117, 000 acres of Illinois farmland is devoted to growing specialty crops, producing nearly $137 million in sales for Illinois farmers.

“Consumers benefit from the availability of nutritious, locally-grown food,” said Acting Agriculture Director Tom Jennings.  “The communities that sponsor farmers markets benefit from increased tourism and the state benefits from the jobs that are supported as demand grows for our food products.”

The number of farmers markets in Illinois has increased significantly the past 10 years.  It is estimated there are more than 225 farmers markets for the 2008 market season that’s up from 97 markets in 1999.

If you’re interested in becoming a vendor, please contact Market Manager Kristi Lee Kenney at 217-782-0777.


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