Summer is here, and it is a great time to get out and get healthy, including picking up farm fresh foods for your family at one of our local farmers markets.

These markets bring the freshest, healthiest produce right into our neighborhoods, often at prices far below the supermarkets. They support our hardworking local family famers, an important part of the economy in our region. And they are often fun community events that add vibrancy to the neighborhoods where they are held.

As we all know, rising fuel prices have caused the cost of foods shipped over great distances to spike. Purchasing locally produced foods from the Farmers Market saves on these shipping costs.

According to the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, if each Pennsylvania household spent $10 a week on food produced in our region, $15 million would stay in our region’s economy every week that otherwise goes to other states and countries. That’s more than $700 million per year.

I encourage everyone to check out one of our area markets:

Citiparks North Side Farmers Market

Allegheny Commons Park, E. Ohio St. & Cedar Ave.

3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Fridays

Charles Street Farm Stand

Fowler Park, 2801 N. Charles St.

2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays

Accepts EBT/SNAP

Individuals 60 years of age or older and meeting income requirements ($20,036 annually for a one-person household, $26,955 for a two-person household) can receive Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers that can be used at local markets.

These vouchers will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis on Tuesday, June 28 at local Senior Community Centers. For more information, call Allegheny Area Agency on Aging at 412-350-4219.