Alaska Local Food Program Awarded Part of $13.4 Million USDA Grant

Homer,​ ​AK​​ ​​-​ ​The​ ​United​ ​States​ ​Department​ ​of​ ​Agriculture​ ​(USDA)​ ​has​ ​awarded​ ​$13.4​ ​Million​ ​this​ ​year​ ​to 52​ ​recipients​ ​across​ ​the​ ​country​ ​including​ ​$403,000​ ​to​ ​Alaska’s​ ​Cook​ ​Inletkeeper,​ ​a​ ​community-based non-profit​ ​organization​ ​and​ ​major​ ​recipient​ ​of​ ​USDA’s​ ​2017​ ​Farmer’s​ ​Market​ ​Outreach​ ​Program​ ​(FMPP).

“It’s​ ​an​ ​amazing​ ​step​ ​forward​ ​for​ ​local​ ​food​ ​programs​ ​in​ ​Alaska,”​ ​said​ ​Robbi​ ​Mixon,​ ​Local​ ​Foods​ ​Director at​ ​Cook​ ​Inletkeeper​ ​and​ ​Director​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Homer​ ​Farmers​ ​Market.​ ​“These​ ​new​ ​funds​ ​will​ ​be​ ​focused​ ​on market​ ​and​ ​producer​ ​sustainability,​ ​helping​ ​markets​ ​throughout​ ​the​ ​state​ ​assist​ ​participating​ ​producers, as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​the​ ​markets’​ ​outreach​ ​to​ ​consumers”.

The​ ​project​ ​will​ ​recreate​ ​the​ ​Alaska​ ​Farmers​ ​Market​ ​Association,​ ​a​ ​statewide​ ​collaboration,​ ​with​ ​a targeting​ ​pilot​ ​effort​ ​across​ ​the​ ​Kenai​ ​Peninsula,​ ​will​ ​identify​ ​farmers’​ ​market​ ​producer​ ​needs​ ​and​ ​provide specific​ ​trainings​ ​and​ ​support​ ​for​ ​those​ ​networks.​ ​​ ​The​ ​Association​ ​will​ ​also​ ​provide​ ​funding​ ​for​ ​market manager​ ​and​ ​farmer​ ​trainings,​ ​annual​ ​statewide​ ​conferences,​ ​and​ ​shared​ ​marketing,​ ​while​ ​collecting baseline​ ​data​ ​on​ ​a​ ​number​ ​of​ ​market​ ​metrics.

“Increasing​ ​food​ ​security​ ​and​ ​reducing​ ​food​ ​miles​ ​are​ ​vitally​ ​important​ ​to​ ​the​ ​sustained​ ​well-being​ ​of​ ​our communities​ ​around​ ​the​ ​state,”​ ​she​ ​explained.​ ​Mixon​ ​also​ ​manages​ ​the​ ​Kenai​ ​Peninsula​ ​&​ ​Anchorage Food​ ​Hub,​ ​a​ ​program​ ​of​ ​Cook​ ​Inletkeeper​ ​that​ ​provides​ ​an​ ​online​ ​market​ ​for​ ​100%​ ​local​ ​foods​ ​and​ ​crafts. “95%​ ​of​ ​Alaska’s​ ​food​ ​is​ ​currently​ ​imported.​ ​Purchasing​ ​local​ ​food​ ​supports​ ​farms,​ ​increases​ ​our​ ​region’s food​ ​security,​ ​protects​ ​the​ ​environment,​ ​creates​ ​jobs​ ​and​ ​boosts​ ​the​ ​local​ ​economy.​ ​”

Since​ ​its​ ​creation​ ​in​ ​2002,​ ​FMPP​ ​funding​ ​has​ ​assisted​ ​local​ ​producers​ ​to​ ​grow​ ​their​ ​businesses​ ​by helping​ ​them​ ​connect​ ​directly​ ​with​ ​the​ ​shoppers​ ​at​ ​farmers​ ​markets,​ ​roadside​ ​stands​ ​and​ ​through Community​ ​Supported​ ​Agriculture​ ​(CSA)​ ​programs.​ ​During​ ​that​ ​time,​ ​the​ ​number​ ​of​ ​farmers​ ​markets​ ​in America​ ​has​ ​more​ ​than​ ​doubled​ ​from​ ​3,137​ ​to​ ​over​ ​8,684​ ​today.​ ​FMPP​ ​grantees​ ​report​ ​an​ ​average​ ​27% increase​ ​in​ ​vendor​ ​sales​ ​since​ ​receiving​ ​their​ ​grant,​ ​and​ ​94%​ ​report​ ​an​ ​increase​ ​in​ ​first​ ​time​ ​market customers.

Link to press release: https://farmersmarketcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/AFMA-USDA-Grant-Press-Release.pdf

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