API Helps Satisfy the Nation’s App-etite for Farmers Markets


A farmer’s market patron enjoys orange samples and talks to the booth vendor at a San Francisco area market. The new Farmers Market API released by AMS will give app developers and designers an easier way to leverage the wealth of information in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory. Photo by Gary Yost.
A farmer’s market patron enjoys orange samples and talks to the booth vendor at a San Francisco area market. The new Farmers Market API released by AMS will give app developers and designers an easier way to leverage the wealth of information in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory. Photo by Gary Yost.
America is developing quite an app-etite. The number of U.S. smartphone owners is approaching 130 million, resulting in more and more demand for mobile access to our information. Combine that with the increase in consumers wanting access to fresh, local products, and it’s obvious why there’s such a high demand for the data in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory. 
The new Farmers Market Directory API (Application Programming Interface) released today will give app developers and designers direct access to the wealth of farmers market information housed in the online database. The directory receives nearly 2 million page views per year and is one of the USDA’s most popular consumer search engines. With over 7,800 farmers market listings available for all 50 states, apps and websites that previously relied on a download or export of the data set will now be able to make direct calls to the directory.  This means that apps developed with the new API will be able to give foodies and farmers market lovers everywhere more accurate and up-to-date information.
The API was developed in-house, and will be updated as the directory continues to evolve. USDA is committed to making our data more accessible to everyone—no matter where they are, no matter what the platform or device. USDA and AMS will continue to listen to the consumers and developers who use it daily and their input will help map out our plans for the next set of updates.
The new API is a first for AMS, but it certainly won’t be the last. We hope these efforts will open more doors for developers and the public to benefit from our datasets.  We look forward to seeing new applications, mash-ups and uses for the Farmers Market Directory information.  Leave us a comment or send a Tweet to let us know how you’re using the data, and share any feedback you might have.
Today’s release also supports the Department’s Digital Government Strategy work as one of the USDA’s API deliverables required by the 12-month milestones. You can also browse additional agency APIs on the USDA Developer Hub – you may just find a great opportunity to mash-up other USDA datasets with the Farmers Market Directory API.
To help support and get to know the people who want to work with the new API, USDA is participating in a National Day of Civic Hacking, June 1-2, with a challenge centered on the new API.  Be sure to check out our challenge or sign up for one of the many events across the country.

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