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Monday, June 22, 2009

Greeley's Farmers Market Makes a Headline

Farmers Market in Greeley makes the headlines. I zoned in on this article from the Greeley Tribune right away this morning. It's a good beginning.

I've been here though. The people are great. Friendly, helpful, etc. Although it is not the farmers markets I have been used to attending it is a foundation to expand on. I have been gathering information about the types of local farms in the area. It is easy to get a feel for the traditional crops. If there is a decent pooling of smaller organic or family farmers around I haven't sourced them yet.

Grants are available to help farmer markets organize and grow through promotion. The text below comes straight off the USDA site.

The Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) was created through a recent amendment of the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976. The grants, authorized by the FMPP, are targeted to help improve and expand domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. Approximately $5 million is allocated for FMPP for Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010 and $10 million for Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012. The maximum amount awarded for any one proposal cannot exceed $100,000. Entities eligible to apply include agricultural cooperatives, producer networks, producer associations, local governments, nonprofit corporations, public benefit corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities and Tribal governments.

However when I searched on Colorado farmers markets and came up with the CFMA (Colorado Farmers' Market Association) I didn't find any reference to available grant funding on the site. I am being told that the governor shot down the federal sponsored grants for Colorado. I will have to check on that background and what provision it rode through the governor's office on. I tried a quick search and got nada. Did find this promotional campaign going on in the southern end of Colorado though. Some one is on it.

Back to the formation of a good market-- there is a lot of requisite information though including insurance which is a big bugaboo. I helped to create a farmers market in a small town a few years back. Once there was a fixed place and agreement with the landowner plus access rights granted from the city along with the always present insurance needs met--it was off and running with a bit of professional promotion. The greater share of organic farmers from the area heavily supplemented their annual incomes (the family farms at that time were clearing around twenty grand a year. The bigger ones could pull out forty).

The interesting part of it all though was the interplay between established retail grocers and the market. At first we had to fight tooth-and-nail against the retail grocers trying to shut us down and throwing out misleading press releases on the topic. Then once a local natural food store gave us their parking lot one day a week (of course there was plenty parking all around for their regular customers) they saw a huge bounce in their internal store sales. Of course produce sales didn't see the bounce during that particular week day but they picked up all the other days. The family farms were very grateful to the retailer and when asked for advice on certain products, etc., they would direct the consumer to the store to pick up items associated for the meal or for middle of the week purchases. The retailer then piggy-backed on the farmers market and used it to gain a stronger brand on community marketing and fresh produce. It was a win-win.

The following year we had grocers in competition for hosting the marketplace! It has, over the years, become a central social gathering place on Saturdays during the harvest months. It makes getting out of the house early on Saturday mornings something much better than a chore. It becomes a labor of fresh food love.

I miss that.

Enjoy season's eatings at farmers markets | Greeley Tribune
Before there were refrigerators and freezers, before ships and airplanes could transport food across the world in a day, before advances in food preservation and storage made keeping food for months a reality, people simply ate what was available to them.

That meant they didn't eat fresh tomatoes or grapes in the dead of winter. They didn't eat butternut squash and potatoes in the spring. They didn't eat salad in the fall.

Now, we've come to expect food availability at any time of the year. And for the most part, we can have our tomatoes in winter and salad all year.

Comments :

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