Tag Archives: farmers markets

Farm Policy Roundup—August 15, 2014

AFT Conference Early-bird Discount has Been Extended to September 1

REGISTER NOW FOR EARLY BIRD RATES!

Register today to save $75 on a 3-day registration!

Join American Farmland Trust and more thtomatoes2an 70 local and national leaders to network, strategize and share best practices to support family farmers, protect farmland and strengthen community food systems. Keynote, plenary and workshop sessions are organized around four cross-cutting themes:

  • Conserving Farmland and Growing Smart
  • Supporting Agriculture and Community Food Security
  • Helping the Next Generation Succeed in Agriculture
  • Promoting Farmland Succession and Access to Land

Join us in Lexington to craft next steps to advance your work in these areas and to enjoy Kentucky’s famous hospitality. Other conference highlights include two bus tours: Urban, Bourbon & Brew and Saving the Bluegrass, a Kentucky Proud reception and Farm Fresh banquet.

Click here for conference program and registration information. Register today to get the early bird discount!
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Congratulations Champaign County Farmers Market, Winner: Small Category

This is one in a series of posts highlighting the four winners of our summer long America’s Favorite Farmers Markets™ contest.

Farmers often have a personal connection with their local public markets. Whether it’s the interaction with neighbors-turned-customers, or the added boost in revenue, regional markets offer a unique place for food producers to sell their goods. For market president Lonny LeFever, the Champaign County Farmers Market in Urbana, Ohio, is more than just a welcome location to sell his produce. It’s a reminder of what’s really important in life.

The market is nestled in the historic section of Urbana. Held every Saturday from May to October, the Champaign County Farmers Market is a vendor-operated market in the truest sense. Every board of director member must be an active vendor, and the five-year plan calls for adding a second day to the market’s schedule, eventually using a permanent structure to hold a market five days a week.

But for now, customers have a wide assortment of produce and hand-crafted goods to purchase. The first market was held in 1998 and was relatively unorganized, with most vendors selling corn and tomatoes. “I didn’t plan on becoming president,” LeFever recalls, ”but my mind was made up that we needed a good farmers market since we lived in an agricultural community.”

In 2008, the board of directors for the market decided to create a five-year plan. They started a “buy local, eat local” branding campaign, and managed to attract and retain about 28 vendors. LeFever says vendors take pride in their products, and the community and local government shows a great deal of support to their local market.

The market tries to cater to the underprivileged residents in the county by accepting EBT Tokens and WIC. “We serve the whole community, not just the people that have the money to do it,” LeFever says. “We keep prices competitive to local stores.” The market also helps boost outside business. Visitors will drive into town, fill up on gas, eat downtown and purchase delicious food from the many family farmers.

“We are located in an area where some people struggle and many people are just trying to survive,” he says. “The unemployment rate is terrible. Bringing EBT and the WIC program into our market, it enabled us to grow our business, and people who were left out before can come to the market and purchase good food.”

Winning a top award in America’s Favorite Farmers Market means quite a lot to LeFever. “It made me feel good,” he says. “I worked very hard to get it to this point, but I never thought we’d get this.” Since winning, the community is alive with support for their local market.

LeFever spent much of his early life in Champaign County, so he is very familiar with the agricultural nature of the region. But at 16, when he graduated from high school, he moved away from home to try to make a life for himself away from his small hometown. A diagnosis of liver cancer brought him back home years later, and he says having cancer made him realize what’s really important.

“We’re all given challenges in life,” he says. “You can either lie down and let them run over you, or you can say no, I’m not going to let that happen—I’m going to live.” Now at the age of 58, he’s been diagnosed with cancer four times, but each time he’s dug deeper to survive. Farming and the Champaign County market has certainly kept him busy, and helped him live a simpler, more focused life.
Perhaps it’s the positive and welcoming atmosphere of the market that provided some extra strength during some hard times for LeFever. People come to the market, local restaurants bring hot coffee or ice tea, and customers end up sticking around to visit with their neighbors.

Vendors at the Champaign County Farmers Market are like a community. “If you are a bit late, you’ll have a fellow vendor helping you set up,” LeFever says. “The whole goal is to provide local, quality food. We try to educate people about where their food comes from and explain why our products last longer and have better nutrition. We stay very involved with our community and always try to make sure the customer comes first.”

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Heard Around the Nation – Farmers Market Customers Sharing the Love!

Enjoy these great comments from farmers market supporters from across the nation! Send your market some love by leaving a comment of your own. And if you haven’t voted in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets or told all your friends to vote, do so today because the contest ends August 31st at Midnight EST!

This market has heart. It was the result of a community planning process where a diverse group of locals voted to start a Farmers Market.  It has grown each year and had diverse local food such as seaweed, berries, fish, oysters and of course garden vegetables. The market takes place in the historic Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall camp #1 and bring out huge numbers of Native and Non Native people. This is one of the most unique and most community building markets in the country.
~ Doug, Alaska

My market is the best community market because the farmers know me and know what I like to eat.  The farmers have a personal connection to the people they are selling to and greet you by name.  The market manger is always moving around and connecting with the public and the farmers. He has great free recipes which give me a different way to use what is at the market. I love seeing friends at the market and visiting in the comfortable, welcoming market atmosphere. It also makes me feel like I am doing something good for my self, by eating right, helping local famers and see in my friends.  This is the best market ever!
~ Duon, California

Locally grown food (including organic and heirloom produce), friendly venders, and various community activities make our Farmer’s Market a fun, nutritious destination.  In an area where housing tracts and shopping centers are replacing groves of fruit and nut trees it is reassuring to know that people are still using their land to provide healthy food for our population.  A fresh ripe garden grown tomato is better than a candy bar any day!
~ Mary Jane, California

I love my farmer’s market for a few reasons. 1) The growers do an outstanding job of bringing to the table fresh slow food. 2) They have jumped through tons of red tape to include the citizens who shop with food stamps. So all of our citizens can eat healthier, and support our local growers. 3) The farmer’s market is more than just local food, it is about our neighbors relating with each other. People talk, and smile to each other. Our local farmer’s market brings our community together in a basic fundamentally human to human level.
~ Lisa, Georgia

1. Variety of vendors: organic fruits & veggies, beautiful cut flowers, cheese vendors, fish monger, poultry farmer, bakers, coffee roaster, more!  2. Meets twice a week: Friday mornings and Monday afternoons, giving more people a chance of buying local.  3. Welcoming to families: the Friday morning market often features puppet shows or other entertainment for children, encouraging families to bring their children to market where they are exposed to farmers and “real” food.  4. Samples – on occasion, the vendors provide samples of their food for tasting. I bought haloumi cheese because I was able to taste it (LOVED it).  5. FUN!!
~ Katherine, Maine

I enjoy shopping here each week over the summer. The freshly picked produce is delicious and nutritious and I am glad to be able to support local farmers. It’s a wonderful sense of community.
~ Susan, Massachusetts

Our town is small with only 2 grocery stores,, the Farmers Market allows us to have “Real” fresh vegetables with out the packaging and chemicals that we are reduced to accept from the stores. The Market organizers are there every week to talk to the customers and the vendors bring the best they have to the markets.  The prices are usually less than the stores and we can hardly wait for Saturday to come around to enjoy the best tasting fruits and veggies of the week.
~ Linda, Michigan

Amazing selection. It has such a carefully curated selection of foods. I love the care and respect for the land that the farmers that sell at this market have. It inspires me to eat locally sourced food.
~ Brian, Missouri

Supporting local farmers, as well as the small businesses and artisans that so prevail our beautiful country is vitally important. Farmer’s markets present us with the healthiest, freshest way to do this. To get a real peek at what America really is all about, all you need is to leave the concrete jungle, and make your way to your local farmer’s market.
~ Joshua, New Mexico

I love the location of the market on the water and under cover!  I love that all the food sold there is grown or prepared locally.  I love that we can come to know the farmers and where our food comes from! I love that I can get to the market in 5 minutes on my bicycle! I love that in this town, kids not only know what tomatoes and potatoes look like in their whole fresh form, but many recognize the PLANT that the tomato and potato come from as well!  (referring to Jamie Oliver’s show from W. Va. where school age kids could not identify whole fresh tomatoes or potatoes!)
~ Marilyn, New York

Because we have just started our market and we have the most friendliest and good hearted people in this little ol town. Everybody helps everyone and knows each other and has really enjoyed this farmers market that we have come to love!!! We need to win best market to get the word out and draw a bigger crowd from out of town. :)
~ Paula, South Carolina

I love that the vendors are the actual people producing the meat, vegetables, and fruit. They’re always happy to answer questions and talk about the produce. I’ve gotten a few really good recipes and ideas about preparing produce from the farmers. It’s the very next best thing to having a huge garden at home!
~ Terri, Texas

My grandfathers all were family farmers with small gardens. Some of my great grandfathers had larger farmers. Most of my family lived long lives 80’s, 90’s, 104 years old. I feel it was due to growing their own foods and fishing the local waters. We look forward to the farmers markets in the summer to buy as much local grown produce as we can. I now can alot of our food we eat in the winter, like my g-mothers before me. My g-grandmother (lived to be a 104) always told me, it comes in a box it will kill you. I respect and appreciate my local farmers. Save Our Farms!!!!
~ Charlene, Virginia

Note: We will attribute these comments to the markets that they are associated with when the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest comes to a close on August 31st at Midnight, EST.

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