Spring is here, and that means the beginning of farmers market season! Homemade treats, locally-crafted libations, freshly-grown produce, locally-raised meats and farm-fresh eggs are just a sample of what you can find at a Charles County farmers market. Although each of our three markets are centrally located within their respective communities, there are also several farm stands around the county.

Maryland’s harvest calendar boasts a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables throughout the year. However, some produce, such as berries, have a short harvest season. Avoid missing out on your favorite fruits or vegetables by picking up a local harvest calendar rack card at your local market or the Charles County Economic Development Department’s website at www.meetcharlescounty.com/farms-agriculture/.

From April through November, Charles County is proudly represented by three local farmers markets.

Check our markets’ Facebook pages for regular updates throughout the season; market times and locations are below.

• La Plata Farmers Market on Talbot Street, open April 6 to Nov. 30; Wednesdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Town of Indian Head Farmers Market at Village Green Park, open April 4 to Oct. 3; Thursdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• Waldorf Farmers Market at 10385 O’Donnell Place, open May 4 to Nov. 23; Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Not only are local farmers markets and farm stands excellent opportunities to support local businesses in our agricultural communities, but talking with farmers, producers and small business owners can be eye-opening and educational. To learn about the extensive processes of how the foods we eat make it to the plate, just ask a farmer!

While many of our vendors create income through agri-tourism, internet sales and traditional storefronts, the farmers markets sustain their success. According to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture study, farms selling products directly to consumers increased their likelihood of staying in business. Farmers markets not only help keep the food you buy local, but also the dollars you spend stay locally too.

Are you a farmer, producer or cottage-food business considering participating in farmers markets? It is important to check with your local and state health department before venturing into a food-related business. Each farmers market has specific rules and regulations, but local, state and federal requirements may also apply.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture is an excellent starting point for new or expanding farmers interested in farmers markets or direct-to-consumer retail. The Charles County Economic Development Department can offer guidance to agricultural businesses through the licensing and permitting process.

For more information about local farmers markets or Charles County agriculture, contact Martin Proulx, agriculture business development manager, at 301-885-1340 or ProulxM@MeetCharlesCounty.com.

Also, for monthly updates on agriculture in Charles County, subscribe to our Agriculture E-News. The link is on our Farms and Agriculture web page at www.MeetCharlesCounty.com/agriculture.