USDA awards CLEDA $294,286 farmers market grant

      Posted On: September 19, 2018

ALEXANDRIA, La. (CLEDA) – Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA) has won a $294,286 grant from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

CLEDA President and CEO Jim Clinton said, “The grant to CLEDA will strengthen the network of rural farmers markets in Central Louisiana. This will significantly increase our capacity to improve access to fresh, healthy local food for consumers and improve market opportunities for farm- and ranch-based operations by connecting and strengthening the network of farmers markets in a ten-parish (county) region.”

The Central Louisiana region is rural, and residents are disproportionately underserved based on age, race, and household income. Supply is not meeting demand for locally-produced food in Central Louisiana communities, and while farmers market exists, they are characterized by stagnated growth, insufficient vendor and manager capacities, and a lack of leadership and support.

This project will address consumers’ and producers’ needs by 1) developing and disseminating models for rural farmers market management and operations; 2) delivering technical assistance to develop food access programs; 3) implementing a regional marketing campaign to educate consumers and promote markets; and 4) establishing a regional farmers market association. Training on tailored models will lead to increased vendor and manager capacity; technical assistance will lead to the development of programs to improve access to fresh, healthy, local food; unified branding and marketing will lead to more informed consumers; and a strategic association will provide leadership and support to ensure sustainability. Together, these efforts will result in thriving farmers markets with diverse customers and increased sales.