Farmers Markets Forge Partnerships to Educate Communities About Health, Agriculture, and the Environment
By: Liz Comiskey Posted On: August 1, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact : Elizabeth Comiskey
August 5, 2012
Farmers Market Coalition Celebrates Markets with Innovative Educational Programs
In thousands of communities across the country this summer, farmers markets are more than simply a place to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables. They are hubs for information and home to thousands of innovative partnerships that teach skills and expand knowledge about food, health, and agriculture.
United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack proclaimed August 5-11, 2012 as National Farmers Market Week. The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC), a national nonprofit dedicated to strengthening farmers markets, is honoring the first day of Farmers Market Week by highlighting innovative community education efforts taking place at many of the nation’s more than 7,800 farmers markets.
- In the month of June alone, 30 farmers market members of the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) taught more than 200 canning demonstrations to more than 12,500 people through a nationwide Discover You Can program, sponsored by Jarden Home Brands and FMC. The Community Farmers Market in Bowling Green, Kentucky gave farmers “Can Me” stickers to label items that are good for canning. “The farmers at Community Farmers Market have been excited about the opportunity to increase their bulk sales and develop stronger relationships with their customers,” says Nathan Howell, a vendor at the Community Farmers Market.
- The Oregon City Farmers Market helps more than 200 kids ages 5-12 each week learn how to make healthy choices through the Power of Produce! Club. Market Manager Jackie Hammond-Williams said, “Farmers markets are an important place to begin empowering our children to be conscious consumers and take control over what they eat…POP Club kids are now asking for vegetables, planting gardens at home, and trying new varieties of produce.”
- Through it’s ‘Learn and Grow’ program, The Glenwood Sunday Market in Rogers Park, Illinois provided nutrition, cooking, composting, and gardening education to 10,000 community members in 2011, while generating $1.3 million in sales to agricultural producers within 100 miles.
- The Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg, Florida recognizes farmers markets as a vehicle for building awareness and support for the wide variety of worthwhile programs available in their community and in 2011 partnered with 132 organizations as a part of this effort.
- Delaware’s Historic Lewes Farmers Market (HLFM) demonstrates seasonal cooking, composting, and pollinator-friendly gardening techniques, as well as offers discounted books on sustainable living and a children’s storytelling hour through a partnership with their local library. Every year, the market provides scholarships to its farmers to help them learn how to extend the production season, try new crop varieties, and network with other farmers in the region. According to HLFM President Helaine Harris, the market also hosts a peer-learning workshop that “…provides a forum for local farmers to discuss important issues such as on-farm food safety.”
“Farmers markets around the country are acting as ambassadors for all kinds of learning,” says Stacy Miller, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “Every day, someone is trying a new vegetable, discovering how food grows, or learning a new skill to enrich their lives. During Farmers Market Week, FMC encourages everyone to ask questions, share stories, and learn something new at their local farmers market.”
Seven Days, Seven Ways to Celebrate Farmers Market Impacts
- Sunday, August 5th: Farmers markets and community education
Innovative partnerships that allow markets to serve as hubs of information
- Monday, August 6th: Farmers markets and public health
Promoting good nutrition and healthful habits
- Tuesday, August 7th: Farmers markets as economic engines
Business incubation, job development, and local spending
- Wednesday, August 8th: Farmers at the center of the system
Governance and policies that put farmers first
- Thursday, August 9th:Farmers markets and food equity
Improving access to healthful foods in underserved neighborhoods
- Friday, August 10th: Farmers markets and civic engagement
Growing social capital and engaging volunteers
- Saturday, August 11th: Farmers markets and rural renewal
Supporting agricultural diversity and farm viability, while inspiring a new generation of producers
The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to strengthening farmers markets for the benefit of farmers, consumers, and communities.
Learn more at FarmersMarketCoalition.org.