If you’re in the Washington, DC-area on Friday, July 17, join us between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. outside USDA Headquarters at 12th and Independence Avenue, S.W., near the Smithsonian Metro stop. Bring your dancing shoes, friends and appetite. We’ll be holding the third in a series of 6 monthly USDA Farmers Market at Night. The July night market’s “Hot & Cold” theme will feature Brazilian Music, local food trucks and free blueberry ice cream.
Farmers markets across the country are gathering places where local food producers are building successful businesses and bringing fresh, local food to neighborhoods across the country. As the demand for local food continues to increase, farmers markets are maturing from small stands to entertainment destinations with extended hours, live music, and a variety of local products.
For 20 years, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has managed the daytime USDA Farmers Market, open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday from May through October. This year, in addition to the daytime market, AMS staff is testing the concept of a night market from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the third Friday of the month (May 15, June 19, July 17, August 21, September 18, and October 16). Each “USDA Farmers Market at Night” will feature different vendors than those at the day market as well as a different live band and educational exhibits.
On July 17, in keeping with the “Hot & Cold” theme, the musical act DC Choro, a Brazilian band, will heat things up by playing the best of Samba, Bossa Nova, Forro, and Choro. Participating food trucks include Carolina Q, Dirty South Deli, Fava Pot, Greatest American Hot Dogs, Randy Radish, and Sang on Wheels. More than 10 members of Union Kitchen, a DC-based food incubator, and other local food businesses will offer delicious dinner options along with fresh fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, breads and baked goods, cheeses, and specialty items -- all perfect for an evening picnic on the National Mall.
July is the peak season for blueberries in North America and National Blueberry Month. The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council will be at this month’s night market to celebrate the 100th birthday of the blueberry and its journey from farm to table. Elizabeth White, the daughter of a New Jersey farmer, teamed up with USDA botanist Frederick Coville to identify wild blueberry plants with the most desirable properties and crossbred these bushes to create new blueberry varieties. They harvested and sold the first commercial crop of blueberries out of Whitesbog, N.J., in 1916.
To celebrate this achievement night market vendor Ruby Scoops will give away 100 cones of blueberry honey cheesecake ice cream. Another vendor, Spoil Me Rotten, will have frozen blueberry dog treats for sale.
While the warmer weather may be ideal for outdoor picnics and barbeques, the summer months typically see a spike in reports of foodborne illnesses. USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) wants to make sure your fun in the sun doesn’t get cut short. The July 17th night market is a great chance to meet Thermy™, Fight BAC!, and food safety experts who can tell you more about four important food safety steps: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
If you aren’t in the Washington, DC-area, you can find details about a farmers market in your neighborhood by checking our free, online Local Food Directories. The National Farmers Market Directory makes it easy to find the operating hours and locations of more than 8,300 farmers markets across the country. There also are directories that list information about food hubs, community-supported agriculture (CSA) operations and on-farm markets nationwide.
For information about the USDA Farmers Market, follow us on Twitter @USDA_AMS. Look for the #USDAFarmersMkt hashtag for updates about both the day and night markets or visit us online at www.usda.gov/farmersmarket.