The Mt. Vernon Farmers Market wrapped up its season a couple weeks ago. I spent nearly every Tuesday and Thursday at the market for over two months; so I spent a lot of time at the farmers market this summer. Some days I worked the market with our high school intern, some days with my co-workers, and some days by myself. I enjoyed meeting and talking to people as well as the other farmers. We bought each other’s produce as well as other goodies. I baked zucchini bread several times to sell at the market, and every single loaf was bought by the other farmers before anyone else even got a chance to buy some. The farmers even gave us some free produce. I came back to the office several times with a bag full of potatoes from a couple of the farmers.
A great component of the farmers market is how supportive it is of the use of WIC vouchers, senior vouchers, and EBT. Many of the people who shop at the market use these vouchers. The vouchers can easily be used at the farmers market, and thanks to the Community Farm Alliance and their double dollars program we were able to double the value of the vouchers and EBT to use at the market. This program definitely encouraged people to buy from the farmers market. It increased the amount of healthy, local vegetables that people consumed and it increased the sales of the farmers.
ASPI may not have sold as much compared to the other farmers, but it was good for us to be there because we managed the EBT machine and we offered some more unique vegetables and food. We were the only vendor to offer baked goods, thanks to Tisha’s breads and my zucchini bread, and fresh and dried herbs. Most people that shopped at the market were interested in big tomatoes, corn, and green beans which they got from the other farmers, but some people were interested in our yellow and white carrots and other different vegetables. When thinking about selling for the farmers market next year, I don’t think it’s necessary that we try to grow more big tomatoes or corn for market because the other farmers have plenty of those. I think we should invest more of our garden and time and into different things that people are interested in like the breads. That way we don’t undermine the other farmers and we provide something special and delicious!