From the Associated Press:

As demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables has increased, so too has the number of urban farmers markets sprouting up across the nation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA] will announce Friday that the number of direct-sales markets has increased 9.6 percent in the past year, with California and New York leading the way. …

After 18 years of steady increases, the number of farmers markets across the country now registered with the USDA is 7,864. In 1994, there were 1,744.

Using data from the USDA, we graphed what the growth in farmers markets has looked like since 1994.

Click to embiggen.

The gray line is the percentage increase, pegged to the right vertical axis. Normally, you’d expect this to drop quickly as the total number of markets increases — it’s easier to grow 50 percent from 10 stores (requiring only five new ones) than it is from 1,000 stores (500 new ones). That the sector is still seeing double-digit percentage increases each year is remarkable.

California, the country’s top agricultural producing state, has 827 markets, according to the USDA. New York has 647, more than double the next most prolific state, Massachusetts, which has 313.

The mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Southeast saw the biggest percentage growth in markets, reporting 15.8, 14.4 and 13.1 percent jumps in participation.

To find a farmers market near you, the USDA provides an online search tool. This is something you should do this weekend. Still time to get in on the trend early.