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Presentation on Farmer’s markets and market vouchers

Participants of the Red Bird Grow Appalachia project attended a joint training with participants of the Red Bird Farmers project on September 15, 2011.  The UK Cooperative Extension Agriculture Agent, Jeff Henderson and Cathy Howell, a SNAP Ed worker (teaches food and nutrition) presented an informative and inspiring presentation on Farmer’s Markets and market voucher programs.    The Jackson County Farmer’s Market is thriving with vendors and buyers.  Many pregnant and parenting mothers utilize WIC food vouchers at their market, and many senior citizens utilize senior farmers market nutrition program (SFMNP) coupons to purchase fresh, in season, nutritious fruits and vegetables. They also give out some vouchers using locally generated donations. 
With the help of the SNAP Ed worker, prepared samples are available for individuals to taste and enjoy and try new foods for the first time.  For our Grow Appalachia participants, there is a GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) training available on-line for growers to be certified to provide samples at the market.  The Kentucky Department of Agriculture can provide a Famers Market Sampling Certificate to allow growers to sell processed foods, baked goods, cooked samples, etc.
Go to: www.kyagr.com/marketing/farmmarket/index.htm  go find the 2010/2011 Farmers Market Manual-go to the chapter on sampling. Contact: Sharon Spencer, Sharon.spencer@ky.gov.  or Adam Watson adam.watson@ky.gov to turn in your answers and get your certificate. 
This training opened our eyes to potential for our Farmer’s Market at Red Bird.  To boost vendor participation we are considering funding some food vouchers to the low income and elderly in our community to increase buyers at our market and this in turn will encourage farmers to come out knowing their will be revenue they can count on. 
Also shared at the training was information on the Jackson County Regional Food Center, which offers a fully equipped, licensed, shared-use kitchen. Go to www.jcfoodcenter.com for more details.  This resource could help our farmers test recipes, package foods, get product development and consulting assistance, and market value added products.
Last, they shared grant opportunities through KY Proud, the Farmers Market Association and encouraged seeking local business contributions to address the issue of poverty and hunger in our communities.  This provides income to local farmers and fresh foods community members in need.
This was an excellent training for our community, I would highly recommend this training to other Grow Appalachia sites.    Tracy Nolan, Director of Community Outreach, Red Bird Mission

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