Thursday, July 28, 2016
(Monticello, NY) – Farmers’ markets in Sullivan County have formed a collective with the Sullivan County Planning Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County, and other community stakeholders with a shared goal: to promote and improve local farmers’ markets. The collective began in late 2015 with a USDA Farmers’ Market Promotion grant and will be implemented now, through November 2017. During National Farmers’ Market Week, August 7th – 13th, the public is invited to take a first look – or a closer look – at their local farmers’ market. All markets are featuring special events and a scavenger hunt. Every participant will receive a free tote bag, temporary tattoo, or large sticker.
“Farmers’ markets across Sullivan County are now more interactive and engaging than ever. We’re launching dozens of free cooking demos hosted by local chefs to help shoppers get ideas for incorporating local food into their meals. Each market has its own unique identity but almost every location has live music, activities for children, and free samples of everything from fresh cheese to hard cider. This isn’t just during our kick-off week – it’s every week,” said Louis Alvarez, Sullivan County Legislature Chairman.
After surveying hundreds of residents and visitors at the start of the project, another strong “theme” took shape for Sullivan Catskills Farmers’ Markets: The public values their connection with local farmers; 78% of people who don’t currently shop at markets are interested in meeting the farmers who grow their food, and 92% of market customers say that they like meeting their local farmers. Farmers value markets because they can sell directly to the consumer – without a middleman. In fact, the collective built their new “homegrown with heart” identity around this special, direct relationship between producer and consumer: Sullivan County farmers are proud to bring products that are “homegrown with heart” directly to the consumer.
“Variety is a defining trait of our local markets. 76% of people who don’t shop at farmers’ markets said they might visit a market if it had a good variety of products. There’s a misconception that farmers’ markets only offer produce – but even at the smaller markets in Sullivan County you can often get local eggs, meat, honey, maple syrup, jams, bread, and even hand-crafted products,” said Melinda Meddaugh, Agriculture and Food Systems Team Leader of Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County.
Another misconception that the collective hopes to overcome is the myth that market products are too expensive. This was the number one reason why people do not shop at farmers’ markets.
“When products are in season, they’re priced the same – or less expensive – at market than in-store. And if you pay a few cents more, the quality – the taste, the nutrition content – makes up for it. Plus, four of the seven markets accept SNAP/EBT/Food Stamp benefits and many farmers also accept WIC and Senior FMNP checks. Choosing to spend those benefits at the market is a great way to stretch your benefits even further while providing high quality, nutrient-packed food to your family – all while supporting local farmers,” said Nancy McGraw, Sullivan County Public Health Director.
Official Launch/ Press Event: August 8th at Noon, at the Monticello Farmers Market in front of the Government Center
FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT: www.homegrownwithheart.com and www.facebook.com/homegrownwithheart.com