In Mississippi and nationwide, farmers markets are growing in number and popularity. Consumers are becoming more health conscience and aware of the benefits of buying fresh, locally grown produce.

For Mississippi, the number of farmers markets has increased to 42, and additional markets are being developed throughout the state each year. Farmers markets provide farmers with opportunities to sell produce directly to consumers at retail prices and give consumers a place to buy fresh, locally grown, nutritious foods.

According to the USDA, sales at farmers markets have increased substantially over the past several years.

The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, along with the Mississippi Farmers Market, Mississippi State University Extension Service, and the Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, is sponsoring two workshops: Selling at Farmers Markets and Fruit and Vegetable Production and Marketing.

The workshops are designed to inform potential and current fruit and vegetable growers how to produce food and sell it at farmers markets.

Selling at Farmers Markets will be held Saturday, March 8, at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson. During the workshop, participants will discover strategies for increasing sales and profits at farmers markets.

Fruit and Vegetable Production and Marketing will be held Saturday, March 15, at the Bost Conference Center at Mississippi State University in Starkville. This workshop will discuss fruit and vegetable crops that can be grown in Mississippi and strategies to increase profits by selling at local farmers markets.

Each workshop will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude by 4 p.m. Sign-in will begin at 8:30 a.m. The registration fee to attend each workshop is $5. Lunch will be provided. Pre-registration forms can be found on the following Web sites: http://www.mdac.state.ms.us and http://www.msfruitandveg.com.

For additional information or to obtain a registration form, contact John Campbell at (601) 354-6573 or johnca@mdac.state.ms.us, Paige Manning at (601) 359-1163 or paige@mdac.state.ms.us, or John Braswell, (601) 403-8939 or braswell@ext.msstate.edu.