Farmers market community saves farm after natural disaster
Posted On: May 16, 2012
This past Friday, I had the privilege to welcome back a farmer to one of our markets. This was a gentleman whose farm sustained nearly 90% crop loss in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene last fall. At the end of last season, we weren’t sure if he would return to market– not just for this year, but ever.
But last week, there he was, with a big smile and a long line of his loyal customers and others drawn in by his gorgeous greens and spring garlic. He was so appreciative and grateful to be back, not simply for much needed sales and revenue. His is a tale of resilience and community.
When his farm was under water, he started receiving calls and visits from his customers, CSA organizers and Greenmarket staff, all asking “How is your family?” and “What can we do to help?” Greenmarket immediately raised funds, distributing nearly $100,000 to 23 most impacted growers. Our staff visited and assessed other ways to support the farm, through fee waivers, assistance negotiating federal and state support, etc. His customers and CSA organizers helped clean the farm of debris and recovered his greenhouse. It was these combined efforts of the community he built in the city that not only physically helped him survive this devastation, but also sent a most powerful message that he is loved and will be cared for by those who he sustains with his farm and his smile!
Farmers markets are not simply places to buy food; they build community and transform open space into vibrant centers of activity. If this farm was relying on the industrial, faceless wholesale sector, it would be out of business today. One hundred twenty five acres would most likely be lost to developers, and the many people touched by the farm’s interaction and delicious farm-fresh food, would have viscerally felt the negative impact.
The Farmers Market Coalition, of which I am a proud Board member, helps to build that community nationally, and is crucial to the ongoing health of farmers markets throughout the United States. Earlier this month, we began our annual fundraising campaign, with a goal of reaching $20,000 by our sixth birthday on June 6, 2012. While this goal may seem modest compared to those of other national nonprofits, it’s absolutely critical for us to continue and improve our educational resources in the new fiscal year. We need your help. FMC’s staff and volunteers work tirelessly to provide support tools and advocacy for farmers and farmers markets and the funds raised through the annual campaign allow FMC to keep markets connected, respond to their needs, and give them opportunities to have a say in public policy.
If you’ve already invested in FMC’s vision as a member, thank you. This support is what makes FMC possible. But we need more members if we are to continue to address the ever-growing needs of the farmers market community. In order for our board to reach its fundraising goal, we ask that each of you reach out into your own communities in order to help build a strong coalition of like-minded local food supporters. We invite you to take part in the FMC Farmer Ambassador Challenge, which will reward one special member with free registration to PPS’ International Public Markets Conference this September (a $425 value!).
And, as a special gift during this week of the campaign, we are offering To Market, To Market to donors pledging $50 or more. Author Nikki McClure has autographed each one, and we are grateful for her donation of these beautifully illustrated books as a demonstration of her commitment to farmers markets. Quantities are limited, so don’t wait!
I cannot thank you enough for supporting local farmers and for helping to build a more sustainable and just food system.
With deep respect and appreciation,
Director, Greenmarket, a program of GrowNYC
Farmers Market Coalition Board Member