With summer officially under way, the 2008 Connecticut Farmers Market season is yielding a bumper crop of new markets around the state — with more and more people demanding locally grown products in the face of rising food prices.

Rick Macsuga, marketing representative for the state Department of Agriculture, said there has been a significant increase in requests by towns and cities to offer farmers' markets.

"Town involvement has definitely increased over the years," he said. "Before, we would kind of have to reach out to towns in order to hold a farmers' market. But nowadays, more towns have been reaching out to us and demanding more and more farmers' markets.

"With more and more town support, it definitely makes this process a lot smoother and easier," he said.

Macsuga said 21 new farmers' markets will debut this season, bringing the total statewide to "a little over 100," with 320 farmers contributing fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and other produce. However, farmers are not the only suppliers to these markets. Fishermen, bakers and florists also participate, adding variety to the markets.

The draw of the farmers' market is "the fact that it is local," Macsuga said, "that the money spent here stays here. There is less of a carbon footprint and the food travels less miles in order to get here."

Customers at the Fairfield Farmers Market at Greenfield Hills agreed.

"I like the whole ambiance of the farmers' market," said Fairfield resident Art Beagan.

Some just want to help support hometown goods. "I like the idea of buying local, homegrown products," said P.J. Calyne, of Fairfield, who was shopping with his wife, April, and two children, Abigail and Alexandra.

Others have another agenda.

"I like the cookies," said Abigail with a giggle.

Vendors say they most enjoy the one-on-one contact when dealing with buyers of their crops.