New Castle County Executive Thomas P. Gordon recently announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded New Castle County a $250,000 grant to grow its farmers markets.

New Castle County Executive Thomas P. Gordon recently announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded New Castle County a $250,000 grant to grow its farmers markets.

The Farmers Markets Promotion Project will support promotion, marketing and outreach for the county’s Cool Spring Farmers Market in Wilmington and a new farmers market the county plans to open in June 2017 at the new Route 9 Library & Innovation Center, now under construction near New Castle.

“The plan is to develop and implement marketing and promotional efforts that will increase the number of participating farmers by half and raise the markets’ overall sales by at least 25 percent,” said General Manager Sophia Hanson, of the county’s Department of Community Services. “This grant gives us a tremendous opportunity to provide support for farmers entering these new markets and promote the launch our new farmers market as part of revitalizing the Route 9 Corridor not only with the state-of-the-art Library & Innovation Center, but the county’s ongoing efforts to increase homeownership and the quality of life for residents in the area.”

Community Services Manager Jane Rattenni said through the planning, marketing and promotion, the New Castle County Cool Spring Farmers Market and the new Route 9 Library & Innovation District Farmers Market will build the food supply chain for areas with census tracts federally designated as having low income residents with limited access to wholesome foods.

New Castle County also operates farmers’ markets May through October at Glasgow Regional Park, Rockwood Park & Museum near Wilmington and Carousel Park & Equestrian Center in the Pike Creek area. The county also has hosted a farmers’ market for the Route 9 area at Garfield Park Community Recreation Center.

Coordinator Michael Begatto said this year’s markets’ overall attendance of 32,705 visitors reflects an increase of 10,980 or 50 percent from last year, with revenues totaling $331,828 for an increase of $96,666 or 41 percent from last year. A total of 52 vendors participate in the markets, selling locally produced or made goods from fruits, vegetables and meats to honey, soaps, baked goods and desserts.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service announced the county program’s grant as the only one awarded in Delaware, one of 28 states to win the competitive grants. Awards ranged from less than $85,000 to support a program in Champaign, Illinois, to $500,000 for expansion of producer-to-consumer markets in Massachusetts.