Thursday, December 1, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
"The week of October 10-14th was National School Lunch week and in honor of that week, the Upshur County Schools made a special effort to include local products in their school lunches for the week. They ordered ground cherries and mustard greens from our fall garden to include as fresh salad components at one of their schools this week. The Nutrition Director for the Upshur County Schools, Cynthia Nesselrode, grew up on a farm in the southern part of WV and is very interested to include more locally produced and seasonal items in the school lunch menus whenever possible.
It is likely that she was even more excited to accept the order from Wolpertinger than we were to deliver it. Hopefully this small initial order is the beginning of a fruitful relationship with the Upshur County School System and results in a closer connection between the farmers and the students in this area.
Any farmers interested or able to provide products that may be of interest to the schools should not hesitate to contact myself or Ben Nemeth about pursuing opportunities with the Upshur schools. This is a great opportunity to develop new markets at a time of year when sales at the summer farmers markets are slowing or already completed for the year. Winter storage items and early spring products will also be able to be sold in this all-but-untapped marketplace. Hopefully we will develop the relationship this winter and spring such that as markets begin to slow next August and schools go back into session, we'll be able to transition smoothly from selling at summer markets to selling to school cafeterias.
If the program continues to grow, there is a possibility of conducting farm visits with school classes or bringing local farmers into the schools to discuss growing, and other issues of relevance with the students, and thereby strengthening the connection that we hope is just beginning to form."
Here are some pictures of the Wolpert's Fall Garden
Congratulations to Wolpertinger and Upshur County Schools! It's exciting to see opportunities like this popping up all over the state. Let's keep the momentum going!
Friday, September 30, 2011
The group unloaded over 45,000 lbs of High Tunnel material from the truck. That's 22 and half tons!
The process went quickly and smoothly with everyone who came out to help. Exciting things will be popping up in Barbour county!
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
This was part of a larger story by Stacy Jacobson that is focusing on local foods being sold into local restaurants and grocery stores. Her story focuses on the recent sales to Stonewall Resort. A very special thank you goes out to Stacy Jacobson for covering this story.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Dr. Snyder presented a binder and handout with some really valuable information on starting a cooperative. He explained that cooperatives have a lot of benefits for growers who are trying to market together, such as exemptions from anti-trust laws, liability insurances and access to larger markets.
We look forward to working more with Dr. Snyder and the OCDC in the future!
Monday, August 1, 2011
It can be downloaded here:
Registration Form for Sale of Home Canned and Prepared Foods
One simply needs to print the form, submit it to their local DHHR office to register, and follow all labeling requirements.
Another helpful document is the Farmers Market Vendor's Guide. It has basic information on registering your products and who to speak with about each product. That can be downloaded here:
Farmers Market Vendors Guide
For the canned good labeling a vendor is required to label any major food allergens present in the product. The list of major food allergens from the FDA website is as follows:
"FALCPA identifies eight foods or food groups as the major food allergens. They are milk, eggs, fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod), Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp), tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans), peanuts, wheat, and soybeans."
The webpage can be found here: http://www.fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/FoodAllergensLabeling/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/ucm106890.htm#q4
Monday, July 25, 2011
Last Thursday, the TVGA made their first delivery to Chef Paco at the Stonewall Jackson resort. The delivery was a vast array of delicious produce; carrots, tomatoes, greens, and fragrant fresh herbs. Chef Paco will be incorporating the produce into Stonewall’s menu, to give lucky patrons a taste of what West Virginia has to offer. Relationships like this with restaurants and local businesses are important to support our local farming economies and to help create a healthy food system for everyone. To check out the menus at the Stonewall, visit their website:
The flyer is available for download under the resources page.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
West Virginia University’s Division of Plant and Soil Sciences is hosting its 12th annual
Organic Field Day on Thursday, August 4, at the WVU Organic Research Farm located on Rt. 705 in Morgantown, WV. The Field Day is open to the public and anyone interested in organic farming is encouraged to attend. The Field Day will include a wagon tour of research and demonstration plots emphasizing transitional practices for growers considering converting from conventional to organic practices.
New this year will be a symposium on organic management for Brown Marmorated Stink
Bug, and a project on sheep health and nutrition. We also have work on organic egg production, additional trials for sustainable biofuel crop production, and crop variety trials on blackberry, tomato, pepper, bean, lettuce, squash and watermelon. Intensive workshops will be conducted on insect, disease and weed identification and management, livestock, poultry, and pasture management, marketing, and much more!
Please register in advance for the workshops so the presenters can prepare adequate
handouts, etc. A dinner featuring organic produce grown on the Farm is planned for 6:00 PM that evening. If you’re interested in learning more about organic farming, some of the practices used, or are just curious as to what it’s all about, feel free to stop out and enjoy the evening with us! Gates will open Thursday, August 4th at 1:00 PM and will close at 7:00 PM. You are encouraged to pre-register via e-mail (email@example.com ) by returning the attached registration form, or by calling Tessy Warnick at 304-293-2961.
For more information, call Dr. Jim Kotcon at 304-293-8822. We hope to see you there!
Directions to the WVU Organic Research Farm:
From I-68, take Exit 7 and go west on Rt. 857, 1 mile to Rt. 119 (second stop light).
Turn Left onto Rt.119 (south) for 1.5 mile.
At the second stop light, turn right onto Rt. 705.
Look for the driveway on the left (¼ mile) for the WVU Plant and Soil Sciences Farm.
You can also visit their website at: www.caf.wvu.edu/plsc/organic
Friday, July 15, 2011
Mr. Connor is an industry expert, and his extensive knowledge on greenhouses was appreciated by the attendees. He answered questions from growers and showcased different materials, then reviewed orders with growers and stayed to socialize and speak about farm operations. He fielded questions about ventilation, the advantages of roll-up sides and how long different materials are expected to last.
The presence of Mr. Connor demonstrated the importance of small-scale agriculture in West Virginia, and the active supporting role USDA NRCS is playing. One couple drove over two hours just to attend the meeting to have their questions answered. There is a high demand for the support of small-scale growers in West Virginia, and the Tygart Valley Growers Association in partnership with WesMonTy RC&D and NRCS will continue to provide this support for our growers.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Fortunately, we had the solution for him!
In order to sell eggs at the farmers market, one simply has to register with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. Assuming that the producer is selling fewer than 150 dozen eggs per week, the registration is free and must be updated yearly:
"§61-7A-3.1 (WV Marketing of Eggs Rule) A small producer is any person marketing one hundred fifty (150) dozen of eggs or less per week of his or her own production. A small producer shall register with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture on forms provided by the Commissioner but is exempt from paying permit or inspection fees.
A small producer will label their cartons according to legislative rule (regulations)."
You can download it direct from this blog by clicking this link:
Application for Small Egg Producer Registration
By following this link, you can download the Small Egg producers Registration Form on the right bar under Egg.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
West Virginia Success Story
Sprucing up a Former Surface Mine
Program or Category: WesMonTy Resource Conservation and Development. (RC&D), Appalachian Plant Materials Center (PMC).
Friday, March 25, 2011
Nationwide, more markets are establishing market-wide SNAP programs in which a number of vendors participate and which the market itself promotes. These programs offer many benefits: recipients get the benefit of fresh, wholesome food; costs are shared among the vendors; and vendors get to increase their sales through new customers. What does it take?
APPROVAL BY MARKET VENDORS: Market vendors must want the program for it to work. If you market now takes WIC or Senior Farmers Market coupons, vendors are used to serving ‘benefit’ customers and may be more willing to consider SNAP. A simple explanation of what the vendor must do and the benefits – i.e. additional sales – may be enough.
HOW A MARKET-WIDE SYSTEM WORKS: The market itself is the approved SNAP vendor. It is responsible for food stamp ‘sales’: What is ‘sold’ is some kind of scrip (coupons to tokens) that the customer uses to buy food from individual vendors. Each coupon or token ‘sale’ is transmitted to the state office, which electronically sends payment to your bank account (usually within one or two days). Later the vendor redeems the coupons or tokens with the market for money.
Market support for the proGRAM: It’s not enough to apply and get approved; you must run the program once it is established. This requires:
· Method to connect to EBT program (phone and power or wireless equipment)
· Market bank account
· A SNAP table or booth
· Staff for the table or booth
· Tokens or coupons
· Advertising and market signs
· Recruitment and training of market vendors
· System for redeeming coupons/tokens and paying vendors, preparing reports, etc.
· Funds to support these efforts
IS IT WORTH IT? Only your market’s experience can tell you. In 2009 Ohio farmers markets in their first year of EBT averaged only $500-$1000 in total sales. But Athens Farmers Market has more than triples our sales since our first year and the amount is still growing. More importantly, EBT benefits allow low-income families to benefit from the lower prices and fresher quality of local products: that’s the real benefit.
1. CONNECTING TO THE EBT PROGRAM: SNAP benefits are transferred electronically like credit cards. Indeed you can use credit card equipment for SNAP – your local grocery store probably does this now. However, farmers markets are different – most are outside, few have power and phone outlets. How can you connect?
Manual Transactions: The least expensive method is to get approval from the state to do only manual transactions. You will need at least a cell phone for this. For each customer, you fill out a paper form and call the state for an approval number before issuing the coupons or tokens. Later you transmit the ‘sales’ using an EBT machine from home or office. Cheap, but slow.
EBT using state provided equipment: The state will provide you with a machine for transmitting SNAP purchases. It is small (about 6x12 inches) and pretty effective. It transmits, prints receipts and totals daily sales. You must have an electrical outlet and a phone hookup to use the system. We had electricity nearby buy had to have the phone company install a line. This is easily done if you are near phone lines and costs $100-$200. What you get is a box where you plug in the phone cord you buy Radio Shack or WW to your EBT machine. The phone line will cost you $30/month (be sure to have it programmed to not accept long distance calls because that box will be available to whomever walks by!). You will need a cell phone handy for emergencies.
You don’t have to have your SNAP setup right at the market. If there is a convenient office or shop nearby, you may be able to use that – you will need good signage to direct customers. It must be available during market hours. Cheap if you can make the connections; fast and effective.
EBT using your own equipment: You can rent or purchase equipment from a commercial company and use a ‘merchant account’ to process sales. The advantages of this approach are that you can get wireless equipment if you want and you can set up and account to also take credit cards (can’t use state equipment for this). Several markets take credit cards and, if your clientele loves plastic, it can bring in extra sales. The downside is cost: equipment ranges from $300-$1000, depending on your system and there are monthly transmission and account fees. The cheapest I found (on the internet) for these were $245 for equipment plus 2.2% plus 25 cents for each transaction (minimum $15/month) plus $8 monthly statement fee plus phone charges. Our market hasn’t done this, so I recommend you contact a local business person or another market to get good advice.
2. MARKET BANK ACCOUNT: You need a bank account for your SNAP ‘income’. You can use your regular market account, or set up a separate one just for food stamps. You will need an employer identification number or a social security number for this account.
3. SNAP TABLE OR BOOTH: - and a place to store this stuff. You will need a table and chairs, and a canopy or tent is helpful to protect equipment and supplies from the weather. A good-sized box is necessary to store the EBT machine, phone/power cords, paper supplies (transaction forms, nutrition information, instructions to customers and staff, etc.) AND you need to transport, setup and take down all this stuff every market. If you use a site away from the market for sales, it is helpful to have a SNAP information table at the market. You market manager’s table or booth may be a good choice.
4. STAFFING: There are basically four methods: Your own market staff (manager), paid outside help, market members/vendors or volunteers.
Manager: This will work if your manager is willing and has the time. Our single manager is far too busy getting vendors set up and monitoring activity to man the booth. Someone has to man the SNAP table well before the market opens.
Paid outside help: Several folks each willing to work one or two markets a month are usually pretty easy to find. We recruited folks from our local food ventures programs, vendor families, interested college students and market customers. You must have a sound training program to get each person ready to deal with customers and problems: you want folks who like people and are willing to talk with them. You also need to have written instructions for everything for staff and customers – things will go wrong, so have an emergency plan. In addition, you will need money to pay them and a system for employing these folks, including handling withholding taxes, etc. In lieu of money, you might consider recruiting regular customers and paying them in gift certificates to the market!
An alternative is to use a vendor as your staff: after initially using paid outside help, we had a vendor volunteer to do this. He takes responsibility for the equipment, sets up the machinery at his booth and processes all the transactions along with his regular business. He’s been doing it long enough now that he knows many of the customers, can answer questions really well, solves all the little glitches that come up and enjoys himself! He didn’t initially take SNAP, but now does, so someone checks his numbers very carefully. Some hints: don’t use an extremely busy vendor and pick someone who likes to talk to customers. You should also rotate the duty among your vendors.
Volunteers: If you have a group willing to take on the SNAP table, you are in luck! “Friends of the market”, church groups, senior citizens, sororities/fraternities, etc. are all likely groups. But you need to train, monitor and support (lots of thank yous) to keep them participating.
The market manager or whoever is running the program needs to keep a schedule of staffing for the booth and to verify that folks will be on duty as needed. Remember, these folks are handling coupons or tokens that have money value, so be judicious.
5. TOKENS OR COUPONS: You need to give the SNAP customer something he/she can use as money at the market in exchange for the charge to his account. Generally these are either paper coupons (scrip) or some type of plastic, metal or wooden tokens. Coupons are cheap but take time; tokens have a high initial cost but are simple to use.
Paper coupons are generally just used once. The market prints the coupons, marking them in some way to prevent counterfeiting. Customers use them that day for purchases and vendors return them the same day for payment. Colored or printed paper, special symbols, dating and numbering all help to prevent fakes; remember, if the coupon is not distinctive and not returned promptly, either a customer or vendor could take it home and fake copies.
Tokens are made of metal, plastic or wood; there are several companies on line where you can order them with your own design. Tokens direct in Cincinnati offers 5000 metal tokens with your market information for about $1000 – half the price is for the die setup so additional orders are not as expensive. High initial cost but they’re hard to fake and last a long time (some do disappear down the couch cushions and under the floor mats of customers and vendors!).
You cannot give change for SNAP purchases, so a $1 token is good. If you are also taking credit cards, you should get a different size, color and denomination for these. Since you can give change for credit card purchases, a $5 denomination is good.
6. SIGNS AND ADVERTISING: You need to tell customers where to get the tokens or coupons. We have a 6 foot banner that hangs at the table that simply says “TOKENS HERE” in case we expand to take credit cards and to minimize any ‘poor folks’ image. We distributed flyers to congregate meal sites, clinics, used clothing programs and churches. We got articles in our two local newspapers. In addition, we included “We take food stamps” on all ads. But more importantly, we have the help of our County Dept. of Jobs and Family Services, which includes market information on their regular radio spots and in communications with their clients. Their help has, I think, been more useful than anything we have done ourselves.
7. VENDOR RECRUITMENT AND TRAINING: If your market is like ours, it’s hard to get the attention of vendors when they are getting ready to sell. Your recruitment and training programs need to be short and sweet. A verbal explanation accompanied by a brief flyer can be enough for most vendors. Be prepared to address ‘poor folk’ and bureaucracy issues. It isn’t necessary that all vendors participate. We found that some vendors only signed up when they saw their neighbors getting those gold tokens. Explain:
· This is additional income from customers who can’t shop at the market now.
· The vendor’s agreement is with the market, not state or federal offices. vendors do not have to report anything to outside agencies.
· Vendors need only read, understand and sign a simple agreement with the market that they comply with the rules. (Have the agreement there).
· Almost all foods are eligible; only eat-at-market items can’t be sold. This means jams, meats, baked goods and other items excluded from WIC or Senior Coupons are eligible – and lots of WIC and Senior Coupon folks also get SNAP.
· What the schedule and process for redeeming coupons or tokens will be.
· The ‘We accept food stamp benefits’ sign should be displayed to attract customers.
8. VENDOR/MARKET AGREEMENT: A one-page agreement spelling out that the vendor will abide by the program rules (give them a copy), understands that the market will be monitoring usage, and the redemption schedule is sufficient. Keep the signed agreements for your records.
9. MONITORING/OVERSIGHT: The market manager or an officer should monitor SNAP activity at the market, making sure that customers are treated fairly and that vendors understand and abide by the rules. Watch for unusual redemptions – too many tokens from small vendors, etc. – to spot possible violations. State and federal officials may visit your market and, if an infraction is found, the entire market may be banned from participation.
10. SYSTEM FOR REDEEMING COUPONS AND PAYING VENDORS AND REPORTING: The EBT system charges the customer’s account and transfers the funds to your bank electronically. Reimbursement is prompt – one or two days, so you can have a quick redemption system if you wish. Initially we visited vendors monthly to collect tokens, issue a receipt, which was given to our treasurer who wrote checks to each vendor. We found this cumbersome: not all vendors are present or are ready, the manager gets called away, etc. We now have vendors bring the tokens or coupons to the SNAP booth, where they get a receipt for their tokens. The treasurer then issues each vendor a check. You may want to reimburse in cash, or write checks at the market, or whatever works for you. However, do not have the same person who accepts the tokens from the vendor issue the cash payment or check – you need to use good money management principles! One market (New Orleans) collects tokens on the day monthly stall fees are due and encourages vendors to use the tokens to pay all or part of those fees.
The market must complete monthly and annual reports of SNAP activity for the state. These are usually pretty simple and all of the ‘sales’ information can be gotten from the EBT machine. If you use a manual system, your receipts will contain the necessary information. Coupon or token redemption figures must come from your market records.
11. FUNDING: Unfortunately there is limited funding to pay for this and you can’t charge food stamp recipients. You will have to find funding either from the market vendors, community agencies and/or grants. Some possible sources are community foundations, churches, and ‘friends of the market’ groups. Your city or county government may be willing to help. We got start-up costs from a community economic development organization, and our Department of Jobs and Family Services supports ongoing costs with a SNAP Outreach contract. How much?
Tokens - $900
Table, chairs, banner, etc. - $400
Special Advertising - $100
Phone hook-up and trouble shooting - $150
Phone - $30/month
Staffing - $40/market day – includes benefits and accounting costs. In addition there is manager work (training, maintaining schedules, preparing reports) and treasurer requirements (maintaining employment records, reimbursing for tokens, monitoring financial reports) that take time.
If you can use paper coupons, get volunteer help, or a free phone line, your costs will be less.
If you decide to also take credit cards, the typical way markets pay for this service (remember, there are fixed and per-transaction costs for this service but not for SNAP) is to charge the credit card customer directly. That is, something like $5 in tokens costs the customer $6. You will need to calculate the cost for your situation.
This document was created by Ann Fugate. It can be found on the WesMonTy RC&D blog at: wesmontyrcd.blogspot.com
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
These are the Chapter Highlights from Buy Fresh Buy Local West Virginia. Their great work from 2010 also highlights the strong partnership between WesMonTy RC&D and Buy Fresh Buy Local West Virginia. Enjoy!
2010 Chapter Highlights:
· Jan-March. BFBL Committee met at the WV Small Farm Conference. BFBLWV set up a display & hosted a table for 2 ½ days while there, signing up farmers market BFBLWV partners & other members during the BFBLWV-organized Winter Blues Farmers Market. BFBLWV recruited new steering committee members. Created BFBLWV Facebook page; as of early 2011, we have 500 fans! BFBLWV fan donated the purchase of books, The Locavore Way to sell as a fundraiser for BFBLWV chapter.
· Spring: Thanks to WV State University Extension sponsor donation, BFBLWV was able to continue work on the website. With grant funds, one of the non-profit arms of the NRCS, WesMonTy RC&D conducted a BFBLWV membership drive aimed at farmers markets in their region. At least 5 new markets joined as a result; their membership was underwritten by WesMonTy RC&D.
· Summer & Fall: BFBLWV continued to partner with WesMonTy District RC&D, who wrote a grant to place a poster in their district schools to read out to children, promoting fresh produce available at local farmers markets. The poster features the BFBLWV chapter logo and contains a space for each school to write in the location of the closest farmers market. Posters were hand distributed in Spring 2011 to each food partner, to coincide with the opening of farmer’s markets and to maximize impact. Parent group WVFMA formalized BFBLWV project as one of 7 standing organization committees.
· Sept: Sent Savanna Lyons, new WVFMA BoD member, to the BFBL National Gathering. Sept 27th: Second annual Celebration of Local Food in Berkeley Springs, WV, was a big success with over 100 people coming out to enjoy great local food and music despite the torrential downpour of rain.
· As of March 2011, 14 current Supporters, 30 current Partners latter broken down as follows: 5 restaurants; 19 Farmers Markets; 4 On-Farm Market; 12 farmers; Sponsors (Wes-Mon-Ty RC&D, WV Department of Agriculture, WVU Extension Service, West Virginia State University Extension Service; Flying Ewe Farm. WVFMA parent group prepared detailed materials to request technical assistance from WesMonTy RC&D for the Buy Fresh Buy Local WV project which was approved by their BoD.
Friday, March 18, 2011
The first state-wide demonstration of EBT (SNAP Benefits) at a farmers market in West Virginia took place on February 17th, 2011. This was the first time the annual West Virginia Farmers Market Association’s Winter Blues Farmers Market featured this service. It was put together in partnership with WesMonTy RC&D, West Virginia Farmers Market Association, and the South Morgantown Farmers Market. Lesa Gay, the market manager of the South Morgantown Farmers Market donated the use of the EBT machine for this event.
This event was designed with simplicity in mind to create a positive experience for farmers who are new to the experience of EBT. We used the voucher system for the market. We had a table set up in a corner where the EBT machine was. Customers could come over to the table and swipe their EBT or credit card for any amount and receive vouchers in return. The vouchers came in $1 and $10 denominations. These vouchers were used in lieu of cash at every vendor. In order to distinguish between EBT and Credit vouchers, we simply punched a hole in the EBT vouchers over a SNAP marking. This was important because the EBT vouchers were unable to be redeemed for cash, whereas the credit vouchers can be.
Each vendor was briefed on the vouchers and received a receipt slip inside a ziplock bag. At the end of the night, the vendors added up their vouchers and placed them in the bag for redemption. The vendors then turned them in to the staff at the voucher table and had a check printed up there for them. Many of the vendors commented on the ease of using the vouchers.
The project was very successful. The table did a total of $1,142 in redemption, with $131 of that as SNAP benefits! That means nearly 10% of electronic transactions were SNAP benefits!
This is important for several reasons. First, it allowed consumers to purchase more than they may have originally intended by providing them with a way to use their credit, debit or EBT cards. Secondly, that is $1,142 that may not have been spent otherwise. By providing another opportunity for consumers to purchase items, the total purchase amounts were increased. Because the farmers received their money at the end of the night, it reduces the turn-around time and gave them a positive impression of EBT at the farmers market.
The income generated at the market is more money that these producers can use toward implementing NRCS conservation programs such as EQIP high tunnel, AMA and the Organic Initiative. This is an example of implementation of USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen A. Merrigan’s January 21, 2011 bulletin encouraging Harnessing USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Programs to Support Local and Regional Food Systems (http://kyf.blogs.usda.gov/files/2011/01/NRCS-Memo.pdf).
Friday, March 4, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
The Community Garden Market in Philippi offers a unique single-point-of-sale system that easily allows all vendors to accept EBT with no training on their part. This was the first farmers market in the state to offer EBT. This market has a single cash register, and all produce is identified by a number that corresponds with the producer so the producer does not need to be present. Upon checkout, the cashier rings up the items with their respective numbers to ensure that each vendor is credited for the purchase of their produce. The customer then has the option of paying with cash, SNAP, Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers or WIC FMNP coupons. The producer does not need to be in attendance at the market because the market is operated similar to a consignment shop. The market manager staffs the cash register and producers pay a 20% fee to help cover the operations of the market and the market takes care of the rest with most producers receiving semi-monthly checks from the market.
The South Morgantown Farmers Market is a traditional farmers market by which the producers direct market their goods. At this market a token system is utilized for SNAP purchases. This is a very easy process where the customer simply swipes their card at the EBT/Credit Card table and tells the cashier how much they would like. The cashier then gives the redeemed amount in wooden tokens. Each token is worth $1. To make the distinction between EBT and Credit Card transactions they use two different color tokens. The customer can then take these tokens to any vendor they choose to redeem for food products. The vendor accepts the tokens and redeems them at the end of the day with the market manager. This system works incredibly well at this market and opens the wide variety of available produce to the SNAP participant. It is important to mention that this system works great at markets in which vendors direct market their products. At these markets, single-points-of-sale are not necessarily an option so tokens in lieu of several EBT machines is effective.
Offering SNAP has several important benefits. Firstly, it encourages low-income residents to shop at the farmers market. When people go to a farmers market for the first time, they are generally surprised by the affordability, and it encourages them to return, thereby creating long-term customers. By exposing SNAP participants to farmers markets it also helps to break down the idea that local produce is expensive. Secondly SNAP benefits increase the earning potential for the producer at the market. Many SNAP benefits are spent on non-local convenience food, and that money is the lost to the local economy. By spending SNAP benefits locally, at the market, it is actually a boost to the local economy through the injection of outside money. Furthermore, that money will continue to circulate within the local economy several times generating even more benefit. Simply by offering this free service to customers and vendors, these two markets have both increased the income-earning potential of their producers and laid the foundation for healthier, local food to be on local tables, no matter a family’s socio-economic status.
WesMonTy RC&D has assisted the food hubs with the supply issue by offering assistance on affordable season extension techniques; specifically low tunnels to the historically underserved community of farmers of North Central West Virginia. The purpose of supplying season extension materials to local producers is to lower their entry risk into enhanced farming techniques, and also to supply the local food hubs with produce earlier in the season as well as later. WesMonTy RC&D has distributed low tunnel materials to several local producers, and both earlier and later season produce holds the potential for greater income.