Eleven state and regional associations founded to advance farmers markets will capitalize on the massive growth of member markets with support from the international non-profit Project for Public Spaces (PPS). Grants of $55,000 to $100,000 will be used to develop innovative programs to increase their impacts on communities, with a focus on low-income communities, while expanding opportunities for farmers.
PPS received 75 proposals from across the country in this new grant initiative, which is being undertaken with funding provided by the Ford Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The grants are part of a three-year, $3 million grant-making program, which began in 2005.
The growth of farmers market networks and associations is a direct response to the rapid growth of farmers markets across the country. The number of farmers markets across the United States has increased by 65% in the last decade to an estimated 3,700 today. Most farmers markets are started at the grassroots level with few resources from which to grow. Collectively, as part of metropolitan networks or statewide/regional associations, multiple farmers markets and/or public markets within one metropolitan area can be operated, sponsored, or facilitated by a single network. Markets can share operating costs, increase economic sustainability and enhance their viability in low-income communities, thereby improving farmers’ profits. Networks can also develop broader community partnerships and effect change on a larger scale than individual markets might be able to.
Associations have a broader reach than networks, and can also serve as advocates, helping to foster innovation at the local level, raising awareness of farmers markets’ ability to address issues of food security, health and nutrition, and community development, and building new partnerships to expand the number of farmers markets within a state or region.
“These grants provide much-needed financial support to allow market networks and associations to envision and forge new partnerships with health institutions, community development groups, schools, and land trusts,” said Steve Davies, Senior Vice President of Project for Public Spaces.”We also hope these projects will in particular help bridge divides in so-called ‘shifting sands’ communities, rural and urban places where there is a growing presence of new immigrant groups, refugees and minorities.”
While spurring innovation at the local level, this initiative aims to help develop more supportive state and federal policies for markets and work to create ongoing sources of funding for farmers markets.
Grantees were chosen with the help of PPS’s 12 member Public Markets Advisory Board, which brings together individuals representing housing and transit agencies, policy groups, health institutions, and farmers, and with the collaboration of the Farmers’ Market Coalition, which focuses entirely on policy issues related to farmers’ markets. The Grantees are as follows:
Market Network Grantees
With Support from The Ford Foundation
- Southland/Los Angeles Unified School District Farmers Market Program – Southland Farmers Market Association, Los Angeles, CA Southland Farmers Market Association, in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District, will develop eight farmers markets at public schools throughout the city, increasing access to affordable food and enhancing the role of schools as community places. The association will document the strategic visioning and implementation phases of the project to create a model for school districts and farmers market groups around the county.
- Bridging the Divide: Growing Self Sufficiency in West Louisville – Community Farm Alliance, Louisville, KYUnder the leadership of the Community Farm Alliance (CFA), the West Louisville Food Working Group will bring together the Champions of West Louisville, an organization composed of African American community development leaders, a farmer led co-op, and neighborhood farmers markets to strengthen urban-rural economic linkages and create a viable local food system. The network will complete a community food assessment and provide economic opportunities for local residents and Kentucky farmers by expanding existing farmers markets as well as by developing a local food distribution center and a shared use commercial kitchen to foster regional entrepreneurship.
- From Field to Table: Creating a Sustainable Model for Farmers Markets in Low-Income Toronto Neighborhoods – FoodShare Toronto, Toronto, OntarioWorking with a network of existing markets in the city, FoodShare Toronto will work with community organizations to develop at least three new markets in low-income Toronto communities that improve access to fresh food and to create community gathering places. Through partnerships with community development groups and health and other social service agencies, they will develop a model collaborative approach for creating and sustaining farmers markets in low-income neighborhoods.
- Rebuilding Farmers Market Networks on Post-Katrina Gulf Coast – marketumbrella.org/Loyola University, New Orleans, LAHurricane Katrina has largely devastated all aspects of some 15 markets on the Gulf Coast in both Louisiana and Mississippi: commercial fishers, farmers, family enterprises (farmers, fishers, bakers, and more), market staff, and many market sites. The funds will be used by marketumbrella.org at Loyola University to help resume operations of public markets in the region, in ways especially designed to meet post-Katrina needs, with the potential to engage new partners. The Ford Foundation provided an additional $150,000 in funding from its Katrina relief efforts, for a total commitment of $250,000.
- Community Health Market Alliance – Camden Area Health Education Center (AHEC), Camden, NJThis new network effort will allow Camden AHEC to expand their downtown community farmers market, strengthen a neighborhood market, and start a new market in the city. They will increase the markets’ impacts on health and wellness by increasing access to nutritious, local food, providing preventative healthcare services, and establishing safe community gathering places.
- Brooklyn’s Bounty: Growing Community Markets and Supporting Family Farms – Just Food, Brooklyn, NYJust Food will bring together four existing operators of markets in low income neighborhoods in Brooklyn, each of which has a strong urban agriculture component. They will bring a broad range of non-profit and local government partners together to identify community level opportunities, organize a borough-wide stakeholders meeting, and write a strategic plan creating a sustainable network involving new partners.
- Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market Association: Food and Farm Center – Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market Association, Wenatchee, WAThe Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market Association will expand their existing markets by hiring a project coordinator to do outreach and management. The coordinator will continue work to develop a permanent regional farmers market, boosting opportunities for both farmers and consumers. The network will support programs focused on nutrition education and healthy living, expand outreach to the Latino community, and collaborate with local partner organizations, such as the regional land trust.
State and Regional Market Association Grantees
With Support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
- Developing a Michigan Farmers’ Market Association – Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS), East Lansing, MIMichigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) and their leadership team made up of all MI farmers’ market stakeholders will create a new farmers market association for the state of Michigan. They will facilitate communication between markets, improve marketing, document economic benefits, help markets diversify their customer bases, and support leadership development. They will also collaborate with state and local agencies to help create a policy voice for farmers markets to state legislators and government administrators. Throughout, they will partner with organizations focused on business and economic development to develop promotion, entrepreneurship, and consumer outreach and education programs.
- New Mexico Tribal Extension Task Force – Native American Farmers’ Market Association – Farm to Table, Santa Fe, NM The New Mexico Tribal Extension Task Force and New Mexico’s Farm to Table will work together to develop the New Mexico Native American Farmers’ Market Association and culturally appropriate models for farmers’ markets that best serve and support the communities they are in. They will assist in the implementation of at least four new farmers’ markets and provide assistance to four recently formed Native American Farmers’ Markets.
- Building Community Partnerships – Farmers’ Market Federation of New York, Syracuse, NYThe “Building Community Partnerships” project will target governmental and community leaders from across New York State to increase awareness about the value of farmers’ markets. With the goal of developing lasting partnerships that strengthen support for farmers’ market, the Federation will organize a statewide conference, “Farmers’ Markets and Community Development” and will redesign and update their website, which will also serve as resource center for both farmers markets and the communities they serve.
- A Community Based Food System & Farmers’ Market Association in South Carolina – South Carolina Department of Agriculture, Columbia, SCThe South Carolina Direct Marketing Association will help small farmers acquire skills to sell at farmers markets, offer opportunities for group purchases of supplies and insurance, and develop up to ten new farmers’ markets with EBT/Food Stamp capacity. Through the development of collaborative partnerships with community and faith-based organizations and governmental agencies, the Association will create a strategic plan focused on markets and improved access to food as tools for reducing obesity and improving the quality of life for low-income families in South Carolina.