Saturday, January 30, 2010
Maryland Farmers' Market Conference
We slipped off the farm yesterday to attend the MD Dept. Of Agriculture's Farmers' Market Conference in Annapolis. It was a day full of powerpoint presentations, bad florescent lighting, and ample opportunity to network with other market managers and growers. There were a handful of presentations on the various state rules and regulation which apply to the market setting, a bit about promoting and advertising, and there was even an opportunity to register your scale with the government, (who knew that you had to do this?). Much to our satisfaction, the focus of the conference though seemed to be on how to use Farmers' Markets to increase access to fresh and local food for low-income populations. Michelle Dudley and Michele Levy of Crossroads Farmers' Market gave an inspiring presentation about the successes and struggles that have come with managing that incredible market. For those who have not heard of it, Crossroads FM focuses on attracting customers from the predominantly lower-income Crossroads area in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, as well as city senior citizens - though anyone can shop there, and everyone should! It was the first Farmers' Market in Maryland authorized to accept food stamps, WIC, and senior assistance vouchers and the only market to match food vouchers with market 'Fresh Checks' - a grant funded project which helps to further ensure that the market's fresh food offerings are accessible to all. We are pleased to be joining the Crossroads market this season as vendors!