Farmers Market Coalition Announces New President

      Posted On: October 26, 2011

The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC), a national nonprofit organization incorporated in 2006, is proud to announce Bernadine (Bernie) Prince as the new president of its 17 member volunteer board.  Bernie will build on the successful two-year tenure of FMC’s previous president, Sharon Yeago, of Florida, and continue to carry out FMC’s mission of strengthening farmers markets across the country for the mutual benefit of farmers, consumers, and communities.

“I look forward to working with more farmers markets across the country so they can best serve their communities and America’s farmers,” says in-coming president Bernie Prince.

Prince is a recognized leader of nonprofits with an impressive record of success. She co-founded FRESHFARM Markets in 1997, establishing the Dupont Circle farmers market in Washington, D.C.  As co-executive director, Prince expanded the organization to include eleven producer-only markets, six in D.C., four in Maryland, and one in Virginia. FRESHFARM Markets is the leading voice for farmers markets in Washington, DC and is a national leader in the local food movement.  FRESHFARM Markets uses farmers markets to educate the public about environmental issues, operates a local foods (FoodPrints) program and provides farmers with vital economic opportunities. FRESHFARM Markets accepts SNAP and provides a matching dollar program so low-income shoppers can afford fresh, healthy food. As a market organizer, Prince has seen first-hand the value in FMC’s national mission of building networks between farmers markets and the importance of this collaboration to markets’ long-term sustainability and success.

Prince is the recipient of many awards for her work with FRESHFARM Markets. She was awarded the “Hometown Heroes Award” from WETA in 2008. She was recognized through the “Women Who Inspire Award” from Women Chefs & Restaurateurs and the “Innovator Award” from the Washington, DC Economic Partnership for her leadership in creating FRESHFARM Markets.

Prince has served as the FMC Policy and Advocacy Committee Co-Chair since (2009), strengthening FMC’s leadership role in advocating for improved farmers market policy. Her expertise and knowledge will be indispensible to FMC as it continues to provide state and national level representation to farmers markets and their stakeholders.

“In my two years as president, I have seen incredible growth in our work at FMC,” says Sharon Yeago, who served as the board’s president since 2009. “From a fledgling organization, our partnerships have expanded and been enriched; our ability to serve the farmers market community has increased greatly; and FMC has become the national leader for farmers markets that its founders hoped it would be.”

At the coalition’s October 25th board meeting, Copper Alvarez  of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was also newly elected as Vice President. Alvarez is the Executive Director of the Big River Economic and Agricultural Development Alliance, and has served on the FMC board since 2009. New board members elected to FMC at the organization’s September 28th member meeting include Caroline Todd (Columbia, Missouri), Jaret Foster (Portland, Oregon), Jan Walters (Des Moines, Iowa), and Judith Robinson (Princeton, New Jersey).

This is an exciting period of growth for farmers markets, as their numbers have more than tripled in the United States since 1994, to more than 7,100 in 2011. In this context, the Farmers Market Coalition’s work to connect farmers markets new and old with best practices to earn and uphold their communities’ trust is especially pertinent. In 2010, the coalition co-authored “Real Food, Real Choice: Connecting SNAP Recipients with Farmers Markets,” and continues to recommend policies and programs that make fresh healthy food at farmers markets accessible to all Americans.

In the face of a challenging yet inspiring time for farmers markets across the nation, Prince says, “Leading with our nation’s farmers markets, let’s make growing and eating healthy food a national priority for the future of America’s farmland, the health of our communities, and the future of our planet Earth.”