Today, we celebrated National Farmers Market Week at Uptown Market in Greenwood, South Carolina, highlighting USDA support for the local food sector in South Carolina and across the country. Uptown Market Manager, Stephanie Turner, and Greenwood Mayor Welborn Adams joined us in thanking the farmers and vendors, and recognizing the great benefits their market has brought to the local community. The Uptown Market is a special place for USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), with a special connection to my program and work we do.
In 2013, AMS Architect, Fidel Delgado, got involved in providing technical assistance for the design and development of the new Uptown Market pavilion. We worked with city officials, businesses leaders and local farmers to understand the community needs for the farmers market. The planned site was originally a railroad station and inspired the design that mimics a train station to fit the historic character of the town. From our visit today, it is clear this market is creating business opportunity and serving as a community resource.
This is one example of how USDA supports partnerships with local food sector to create greater economic impact for rural Americans. AMS provides technical assistance to communities for the construction or remodeling of buildings used as part of a local food system. As an architect who specializes in Wholesale Market and Facility Design, Fidel works with local architects, state agriculture agencies, farmers market associations, wholesale market managers, and local farmers to serve as a technical advisor for design projects.
Local food facilities include ones like the market pavilion in Greenwood or a mixed use facility like we helped design at the Santa Fe Farmers Market in New Mexico. We also work with community leaders building local food systems to design food hub as part of the Wiregrass Growers Marketing Cooperative in Headlands, AL. A food hub facility would provide a centralized location and equipment, allowing growers to operate on a larger scale and maximize profits through the cooperative sharing of a packing and chilling facility. They look to increase the amount of produce available to the “fresh” market, in turn helping the growers to market to large retail stores.
Another project we have been working is a community kitchen as part of the Broadway Market in Buffalo, NY. AMS developed a commercial kitchen incubator design considering community and local stakeholders needs. The design includes vendor booths, a food court, wine cellar, and a large open space for community gatherings. Market vendors, food trucks operators and caters will be able to develop value-added products; immigrants and low-income residents will gain training and experience in food preparation, as well as business and financial management; and the community will have a venue for education on nutrition and healthy food demonstrations.