PICKAWAY COUNTY - Now in its third year, the Pickaway County Farmers Market is extending its season for two additional weeks.

The final day for the market was originally scheduled for this Saturday, but it will now be open on Aug. 18 and 25 from 9 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of Tractor Supply Company, 23735 U.S. Rt. 23 South. This is the first year for the market to be held at this location.

“We’ve had a lot of customers ask us to stay open later, and it was something the vendors wanted to do also,” said Kristin Sawyer, market manager.

Sawyer said that among the most popular items sold at the market this summer is the fresh produce, including sweet corn, watermelons and cantaloupes. In addition, she said that Beth Spangler, of Country Cakes and Bakes, is always busy and does well every week.

New Century CSA, 7370 Bell Station Rd., is one of the farms that sells fresh produce at the Farmers Market each week. According to Tim Cook, owner of New Century CSA, the Farmers Market is good advertising for his business and helps build its reputation in Circleville. New Century CSA is a business that basically sells shares of its farm to members.

“Every week the member gets a portion of whatever is in season,” said Cook, who added that members can customize their orders.

This week, Aug. 5 to Aug. 11, is National Farmers Market Week, and it was announced on Aug. 3 that there has been a 9.6 percent increase in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Farmers Market Directory listings. The directory identifies 7,864 farmers markets operating throughout the United States, which is up from 7,175 markets listed last year.

“Farmers markets are a critical ingredient to our nation’s food system,” said Kathleen Merrigan, U.S. Agriculture deputy secretary. “These outlets provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities but also to the communities looking for fresh, healthy foods. The directory is an online tool that helps connect farmers and consumers, communities and businesses around the country.”

Ohio is listed as one of the top states in terms of markets reported in the directory, with 264 markets. Other steps the USDA has taken that affect farmers markets include outfitting more markets with the ability to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) and releasing a 2.0 version of its KYF Compass, a digital guide to USDA resources related to local and regional food systems.

The USDA National Farmers Market Directory may be found online at farmersmarkets.usda.gov. More information on the Pickaway County Farmers Market may be obtained by calling the Pickaway County Farm Bureau at 474-6284 or the Pickaway County Welcome Center at 474-3636.