Good things are happening for the Downtown Jamestown Farmers Market.
The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation recently announced that the Downtown Jamestown Farmers Market has received a two-year $48,673 USDA grant to increase federal nutrition benefit redemptions through targeted advertising, education and outreach in low access areas.
Christina King, Downtown Jamestown Farmers Market assistant, discussed how the grant will be used to make the farmers market more accessible.
Downtown Jamestown Farmers Market assistant Christina King met with Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl, right, and Richard Zink, Southern Tier West executive director, during the last stop in ARC’s food tour.
P-J photo by Remington Whitcomb
"To improve access, we're really looking into the CARTS system," said King. "We're trying to encourage certain routes, especially through the low access areas of the city - our farmers market is located downtown, but the food deserts are on the (outskirts of the city)."
The term food desert doesn't have a single correct definition, but it usually refers to an area or neighborhood which is not located within a comfortable walking distance to a store that sells fresh produce. If such a store is too far away, it could be too difficult to walk home while carrying grocery bags.
King said that working with CARTS could be an effective way to give food deserts and low access areas in the city better access to fresh produce.
"We're looking to expand our advertising and consumer education efforts as well," said King. "We want to get out there using more creative methods. We're going to look at radio and print, but we've also allotted money to hire a videographer to highlight the vendors we have here, and a short film is in the process.
"We're also increasing consumer education," continued King. "We want to let everyone know about our EBT program here, so everyone has access. We're working with Cornell Cooperative Extension, and representatives come and do a bi-weekly food demonstrations to teach customers how to prepare, store and cook the produce here. We have cookbooks that we hand out, and it helps customers see what can be made with produce that maybe they've never tried before."
King said without the USDA grant, the farmers market would be limited in its ability to expand.
"The farmers market has been around 35 years, and we've made our way through those 35 years without these huge grants," said King. "But because organizations don't have the resources to sponsor something like the farmers market anymore, it was pertinent for the continued success of the market."
APPALACHIAN REGIONAL COMMISSION VISITS
DOWNTOWN JAMESTOWN FARMERS MARKET
Earl Gohl, Appalachian Regional Commission federal co-chair, along with Southern Tier West representatives Kimberly LaMendola, regional development coordinator, and Richard Zink, executive director, visited the farmers market on Friday as part of ARC's food tour.
"The idea of the food tour is to get a sense, throughout the region, of how people are using food as a part of the local economy," said Gohl. "We've been to portions of seven states so far, and what we've learned is that there is (potential) to use an area's food to contribute to the local economy, whether it's through agriculture, processing or farmers markets."
According to Gohl, ARC has 13 governors, and each governor has federal resources which they can allocate to areas to sponsor economic development projects.
"This part of the state is really interesting," said Gohl. "It's got an enormous amount of agriculture, but the challenge is harnessing it to support local demands, and add to the local economy here. We all eat, but the question is, where does the food come from? The more we can keep our food in the area where it was grown, the more benefit to the local economy, and the greater benefit to the consumers and the growers. The (Downtown Jamestown Farmers Market) is a beautiful little market, and we're trying to figure out how to make it grow."