For urban communities, access to fresh, high quality produce is difficult to come by. When it is available at farmers markets, it is priced higher then supermarkets. The markets' hours are also typically inconsistent, weather pending and extremely limited to weekends. It can be an unrealistic option for families; especially for parents who work on the weekends.
Collaborating with City Planners & Local Government
Building a stronger farmers market community directly with local government would allow for a strengthened support system to better serve the community. Choosing a strategic location in proximity to moderately troubled neighborhoods could increase government incentive to fund the market with hopes of a positive effect in the surrounding area. A direct collaboration could increase support and access to a wider range of payment options through nutritional assistance programs (SNAP/Foodstamps, EBT and other food vouchers) as well as partnering with already existing, locally funded food education programs. The local police force could be a huge asset when deciding on a permanent location in regards to which higher crime areas have the potential to be lowered in shorter periods of time. And more importantly, governmental collaboration from the beginning could ensure permanence and growth of the farmers market regardless of the consistently of external organizations' involvement and funding.
Strategic Geographic Location to Bridge Social Gaps
Rochester is well known for its' long term economic woes and above average crime rates. The Rochester Public Market is an inspiration for this concept because of its' unique location within the city of Rochester. (Crime Rates) Although the market sits within a relatively safe area, it is surrounded by several documented 'unsafe' neighborhoods. (A cropped image of the crime rate map and satellite image of the market are included with this concept.)
The primary goals for targeting these unique locations are:
• To provide and develop a neutral, positive location to serve a wide range of income and education levels and ethnicities where everyone can feel welcome. Also, to provide consistent, dependable access to fresh, affordable produce, the local rural community and basic nutritional health education. Serving a wider range of the community would hopefully strengthen empathy across disparate social groups.
• To potentially attract surrounding businesses to move into the area and project an overall positive ripple effect to help lower crime rates in neighboring communities.
• Improve the dialog between all types of eaters and rural growers who wouldn't otherwise meet.
• To provide a rare, consistent source of income for the local agricultural community. A permanent structure would also allow for stronger defense against stormy weather and increase customer visits during rain or snow storms.
Learn from Already Existing Success Stories
The public market in Rochester is one of the largest, serving 2.5 million a year and most diverse markets registered through the American Farmland Trust. The market is more than just a weekend activity or hobby for its visitors and vendors; it is their way of life and livelihood. Since 1827 it has been developing into a thriving, diverse community with a wide range of dedicated patrons and vendors. In 2010 the Rochester Public Market was declared to be America's Favorite Farmers Market by a 2400-vote victory in a national challenge organized by the American Farmland Trust. Attached is a quote from one of the contest voters concisely capturing the overall goal of this concept.
Photography courtesy of the Rochester Public Market Flickr page.