This year, Farmers Market Week was celebrated across the country from August 6th- August 12th. National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration of farmers markets proclaimed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and coordinated by the Farmers Market Coalition, a membership-based nonprofit organization that supports farmers markets nationwide through training, technical assistance, and network-building.
While here at City Green, we celebrate the value of Farmer's Markets every week, I want to take the time to share with you just what makes Farmers Markets and Farm Stands so special:
They Bring People Together
In a world where technology can be an isolating force, it is more important than ever to connect with others in safe, diverse and accessible spaces. Studies show that at a farmer's market, people experience 15-20 social interactions compared to 1 or 2 at the grocery store (source: the National Farmer's Market Coalition). At City Green's markets, we witness the beauty of those interactions every day. Customers reconnect with old friends, neighbors introduce themselves to each other, and everyone has the chance to talk to their local farmers and learn about their food. Recipes, stories, and knowledge-- about food, nutrition, plants, farming, cooking- are exchanged freely and joyfully. In 2022, City Green held 174 markets from June-November, allowing 5,390 customers to make these valuable connections.
They Provide Access to Fresh Food
In addition to choosing market locations in New Jersey's food desert (or more truthfully named, food apartheid) areas, the Good Food Bucks program allows City Green to double the value of SNAP/EBT and WIC and Senior FMNP federal benefit dollars. This supports improved access to fresh fruits and vegetables for families with limited grocery budgets, and works to disband the common association between farmer's markets and higher income shoppers. Last year, customers who used SNAP, WIC and Senior nutrition benefits made up 42% of City Green's customer base, and we matched more than $23,000 in federal benefits sales with Good Food Bucks at our markets, allowing thousands of families to take home double the amount of fresh food.
They Celebrate Diversity & Inclusion
At City Green, we recognize that the land we now steward is the traditional territory of the Munsee Lenape Native Americans who were forced from this land. To explain the various intricate ways that genocide and racial injustice created and continue to shape our country's food landscape is not an easy feat to accomplish in one newsletter, but as a participant in your local food system, it is never too late to educate yourself. As a food justice organization, City Green supports and celebrates the diverse communities that we serve by growing foods requested by our customers, acknowledging and educating ourselves and others on racial injustice in the food system, and upholding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion among our highest organizational values.
They Give Back to Their Communities
Weekly produce donations to our food pantry partners in Paterson, Passaic, in Clifton are a key component of City Green's market program. In 2022, City Green donated 7,365 lbs of produce to 7 different organizations. Through these donations, we can ensure that food from City Green Farms doesn't go to waste, and that families who need it most can still have access to fresh, quality food regardless of their income.
They Stimulate Local Economies
Farmer's Markets stimulate local economies by providing local vendors with a space to sell their goods to their own communities. In 2022, City Green purchased over $15,000 worth of supplementary fruits, vegetables, eggs, honey, and dry goods from over 20 other local farmers. By purchasing these items from our farm stands last year, you also extended your support to these farmers and the communities they serve, creating a support system for local producers that is way more meaningful than your average grocery store purchase. Go you!
Consider This: Farmers Markets Don't Just Happen!
They require hard work, flexibility, knowledge, passion.... and about a hundred other factors! At City Green, none of what we do is possible without the dedication of our directors, farmers and market assistants, and, of course, customers like you that keep coming back!
Being part of your local food system is important for all of the reasons above and more. We hope that, this National Farmers Market Week, we can show you just how special your local Farm Stand or Farmers Markets are, and how much of an impact you make by shopping with us for your weekly fruits & vegetables.
By Alex Caroleo, Market Manager, City Green