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Farmers' markets are a community asset
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Autumn is a time of harvest and abundance, especially in California's Central Valley, the most productive agricultural region in the world. We produce $17 billion of agricultural products each year and provide half of the nation's fruits and vegetables, including almonds, walnuts, dry beans, peas, boysenberries, cling peaches and apricots. It is well known that fruits and vegetable taste better if purchased direct from the farmer who harvests his products that morning and sells them that afternoon. What better way to experience the wealth of Central Valley's agricultural products, produced virtually in our own backyard, than to visit a farmer's market.

In April 2009, the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children established the Ceres Farmers' Market in Whitmore Park to provide an opportunity for our community to have access to those freshly picked fruits and vegetables. However, farmers' markets are also a chance to connect with the community, for friends and relatives to gather in the outdoors enjoying the fresh fall weather in downtown Ceres.

The desire for Ceres Partnership For Healthy Children to revive the Ceres Farmers' Market began as a seedling idea from the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP) and grew as a result of the community's expressed need to have access to fresh, local and affordable produce. The market, in its first year, is positioning itself to become a mainstream source for fresh-from-the-fields produce as well as a location for families to connect with each other in an inviting, healthy, and stress-free environment.

In years past when life was a lot simpler, families gathered in the town square for community events and the town square was central to the lives of a community's citizens. Ceres has not lost its connection with those values and the Ceres Farmers' Market is an opportunity to gather under a shade tree, catch up on community events, connect with and make new friends while purchasing healthy fruits and vegetables.

The Ceres Farmers' Market offers a welcoming environment where healthy food choices are available to the community and where good nutrition is put in reach of individuals and families. Farmers' markets are a great source for fresh, high-quality food that comes from farmers who avoid or reduce their use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified seeds in their operation. Buying local produce also helps to support local farmers and the local economy. Purchasing local fruits and vegetables benefits the local community by ensuring that dollars continue to circulate in our community and protects the environment from carbon dioxide emissions when food travels from the farm to the table. In addition, family farms whose existence are becoming endangered with each passing year, also receive financial and emotional support they need to stay in operation.

Every week the Ceres Farmers' Market provides a unique venue for community and social interaction and hosts special events for adults and children to enjoy. To honor the autumn season, the Farmers' Market is having a Fall Fest on Wednesday, Oct. 7 from 12 noon to 7 p.m. at Whitmore Park. The general public is invited to this free event featuring fun games, pumpkin carving activities, prizes, and important community information. The farmers' market is open year-round every Wednesday from 12 noon to 7 p.m.