The main directive of the Washington D.C.-based American Farmland Trust is to protect and preserve this country’s farmland. And, it believes the growth and popularity of America’s burgeoning farmers market network and that philosophy go hand in hand.

With that in mind, the trust is promoting a contest it’s calling “America’s Favorite Farmers Markets,” where people can go online and vote for their favorite farmers markets. Three winners will be selected — one each for small, medium and large markets — and will be awarded a shipment of tote bags to distribute to shoppers.

“One of our staffers came up with the idea in response to the local grower’s campaign,” said Jennifer Morrill, director of media relations for American Farmland Trust. “This trend toward increased interest in the whole locally grown, buy-local segment has really captured people’s interest.

“Our interest in in farmland protection, and none of this happens without farmland. That was our main impetus,” Morrill said.

Online voting is under way at Consumers can vote as many times as they like, but just once for each farmers market. Voting remains open until midnight Aug. 8.