FMC's Top 10: Our Year in Review

      Posted On: December 31, 2014

Twenty-fourteen was an incredible year for farmers markets! With 2015 quickly approaching, we wanted to take a moment to look back on some of this year’s most exciting happenings.

1 / Farmers Markets & Local Food Supported in Farm Bill
Unprecedented levels of funding for local food and farmers markets was included in the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farmers Market Promotion Program was expanded into the Framers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, and funding was bumped up from $10 million to $30 million per year, totaling $150 million over 5 years. Other programs included:
Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grants            $100 million over 5 years
Community Food Projects                                       $45 million over 5 years
Specialty Crop Block Grants                                  $375 million over 5 years
Specialty Crop Research Initiative                        $400 million over 5 years

2 / 372 Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program Grants Awarded
372 organizations in 49 states and the District of Columbia were awarded Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program grants, including FMC and at least 42 FMC members!  As part of FMC’s FMPP project, we’ll be creating a modular series of training materials for farmers market practitioners on effective data collection strategies.

3 / FMC’s First Annual Poster Contest Launched
2014 was the first year of FMC’s poster contest, which garnered 167 amazing entries from markets across the county. See the winners here, and all the entries here on our facebook page. We can’t wait for next year’s contest!

4 / FMC Awarded Contract with USDA to Support EBT at Markets
FMC was selected by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to assist with the creation and implementation of two separate initiatives: administration of $3.3 million in support grants for SNAP at farmers markets, and the distribution of $700,000 in EBT equipment for existing SNAP programs at farmers markets. This opportunity is the result of years of work and dedication from hundreds of FMC members and partners, and we’re so pleased for the chance to work side by side with FNS to improve SNAP at markets! See more info here.

5 / FMC’s Power of Produce (POP) Piloted in Philadelphia

FMC is piloting POP tools, guides and a mini grant program to assist interested farmers markets in starting their own POP Clubs. The Food Trust used FMC’s draft POP materials to pilot the program at their Clark Park Market in Philadelphia. After we’ve incorporated the lessons leaned from the pilot, FMC will release the POP Club Starter Kit to the public, for use nationwide! We need to raise $10,000 to make POP Club a reality in 2015 — will you help?  With your support, we can grow healthy kids and healthy farms!

6 / When USDA Under Secretary Concannon Rode a Bike Blender during National Farmers Market Week
USDA Under Secretary of Food and Nutrition Services, Kevin Concannon, rode a bike blender at Crossroads Farmers Market during National Farmers Market Week. The bike blender is used to make delicious and nutritious smoothies for kids visiting the market. Under Secretary Concannon’s presence at the market, and willingness to bike blend was just one of the many ways that USDA leadership and staff have showed dedication to farmers markets in 2014.

7 / FMC’s Data Collection Research Launched
A prototype of FMC’s Market Metrics data communications report was created and tested during the first six months of the year, and presented at the Knight Foundation’s Prototype Fund Demo Day. See the prototypes here.  Also beginning in January, FMC kicked-off a three-year research project with the University of Wisconsin, to identify and test which metrics markets should be collecting, and what that data can tell us. The first in-person meeting of the participating market managers took place in November, with the first round of data collection to start in 2015. Learn more about this research at this link.

8 / Discover You Can Markets Increased from 30 to 50
Food Preservation education at farmers markets increased from 30 to 50 markets through the Discover You Can: Learn, Make, Share program. Jarden Consumer Solutions, makers of FoodSaver® vacuum-sealing system, joined the education alliance with Jarden Home Brands, makers of Ball® Brand Fresh Preserving Products. Together with FMC, food preservation options were expanded beyond produce to include meat, fish, cheeses, and more. The program, which can be viewed on Facebook, also supported farmer sales and inspired many farmers market outreach programs nationwide.

9 / FDA Released Revised Food Safety Rules
FDA took public comments seriously, and released revised food safety rules that reflected many of the asks submitted by FMC members. Another round of comments was collected this December, and we look forward to seeing a new set of rules in 2015. Thank you to those who took the time to comment on this important issue!

10 / Farmers Markets Honored with USPS Stamp
FMC President Bernie Prince joined USDA Secretery of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and USPS Post Master General Patrick Donahoe onstage at the United States Postal Service’s First Day of Issue Ceremony for the new, limited edition farmers market stamps. In her address to the crowd, Bernie shared, “Every day you eat fresh, local food, you are supporting America’s farmers and you are ensuring that that farmland is being saved, one delicious meal, one delicious bite at a time.See Bernie’s full address here.

Thank you for making 2014 the most amazing year at FMC yet! And here’s to an even more productive 2015!