In celebration of National Farmers Market Week (August 6-12), and to further the awareness of farmers markets’ contributions to healthy food access, AMS is highlighting a cooperative agreement partnership with the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) that set out to develop and pilot on-campus farmers markets at three 1890 land grant universities and Vegetable Education (VegU) programs at three farmers markets. Team members from USDA’s Farmers Market Team, AMS’ Local & Regional Foods Division, and FMC are currently working with schools in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia for the pilot projects and farmers markets in Texas, Illinois, and Kentucky to establish VegU programs.
Farmers markets support local economies by increasing marketing opportunities for farmers and small businesses, providing access to an assortment of local and regionally sourced products, and promoting healthy, affordable food. Establishing this kind of hub in a university community allows for even more educational opportunities in a space already energized with youth, academic, and local interest. This project has both a market and Vegetable Education component that will be conducted through two phases: 1) A focus on education, data gathering, design, and operating procedures, and 2) Taking the information gathered from phase one to do prototyping and implementation. The anticipated outcome will be two separate toolkits to demonstrate how to set up a farmers market on college campuses, and how to set up a Vegetable Education-style presentation at farmers markets.
Overall, this project aims to support stakeholders at these universities and communities in increasing access to produce within their local network, while also educating consumers about the benefits of local food. To learn more about these pilot programs, contact Toiayna Thompson (Toiayna.Thompson@usda.gov), and follow @USDA_ AMS on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date.