Dear Friends of the Jefferson County Farmers Markets,
Greetings! As the new year rapidly approaches, I write to you in thanks as well as to share the successes of the Jefferson County Farmers Markets 2018 season. This farmers market season was full of busy weekends, special events, chef demonstrations, new programs, and a new Port Townsend Wednesday Farmers Market location. A successful farmers market is a reflection of the community from which it comes and of which it serves. It is with your support that we broke sales records this year, increased local food access for more than 500 households with low incomes, and brought our community together in celebration of local food.
Sales at the Port Townsend and Chimacum Farmers Markets grew by nearly 5% this year. This growth reflects increased community and vendor participation as well as your investments in our local economy, farm-direct and artisan food, as well as hand-made arts and crafts. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, for every $100 spent at a local farmers market approximately $68 stays in the community, which in turn supports local jobs, farms, and small businesses. Check out this chart of Port Townsend Saturday Farmers Market sales over the past seven years. (The 'misc' category includes all services provided at the markets, such as massage or henna, that do not fall into other, well as market merchandise sales.)
Providing healthy food for our community is part of the mission of the nonprofit Jefferson County Farmers Markets (JCFM). We support local food access through our Fresh Bucks and Gimme5 food assistance matching programs. These programs foster community health by matching federal food assistance benefits with extra dollars for fresh, locally grown food. In 2018, shoppers using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/EBT formerly Food Stamps) spent a total of $17,150 at market, a 6% increase over 2017. JCFM matched SNAP and Women Infants and Children (WIC) as well as Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers with a total of $14,632 in Gimme5 and Fresh Bucks, a 49% matching increase over last year. (We don't have the FMNP redemption rates at this time.) Gimme5 and Including SNAP and JCFM matching funds redeemed at market, families, seniors and individuals with low incomes brought home nearly $32,000 in healthy food from our local farmers markets this year. By extending federal food assistance benefits, JCFM helped more than 500 households bring home the most nutrition-dense food available locally while also empowering shoppers with low incomes to participate in our farmers markets and invest in our local economy. We are so thankful for our food access sponsors who help us increase food security in our community. Thank you 1st Security Bank, Kristin Manwaring Insurance, Jefferson Healthcare, United Good Neighbors, and the Food Co-op for your support.
We trialed a fruit and vegetable prescription program (VegRx) this year in partnership with Jefferson Healthcare, the Food Co-op, and the Jefferson County Public Health 5210 Campaign. During Well-Child-Checks, Jefferson Healthcare clinicians throughout the county were able to prescribe VegRx to families experiencing hunger. These 12-month prescriptions are redeemable at the Port Townsend and Chimacum Farmers Markets and, during the market off-season, at the Food Co-op in Port Townsend. VegRx got off to a slow start this year with a total of 12 prescriptions given. However, program partners recognize that there is great potential for this program, which we will be working to fulfill in 2019 with some adjustments to how participants are identified and who is eligible for the program.
JCFM also started a weekly kids club this year. The Power of Produce (POP) Club engaged about 200 children from toddlers to 12-year-olds through weekly food and farming activities hosted at the Port Townsend Wednesday and Chimacum Farmers Markets. Partners, including the Organic Seed Alliance, the Port Townsend Public and Jefferson County Libraries, the ReCyclery, 4-H, Prosper Yoga, and Chef Arran Stark of Jefferson Healthcare helped us host food tastings, cooking, seed exploration, arts and craft, and other activities. Children were excited to play with and taste new foods, meet local farmers, and get to know our farmers markets. Our thanks go out to our program partners and sponsors. Thank you First Federal Community Foundation, Port Townsend Chiropractic and Chimacum Corner Farmstand for helping us bring this fun program to life!
This season we moved our Port Townsend Wednesday Farmers Market to the Jefferson Transit Haines Place Park and Ride. This move was made with consideration for the sustainability of our mid-week farmers market. This move was a success thanks to the dedication of our vendors, new and returning market shoppers, and our great partnership with Jefferson Transit. We were pleased to welcome many new shoppers to market, including neighbors, people who use transit, and families who were excited to try out POP Club. While we almost doubled the number of vendors (from an average of 5-6 in 2017 to as many as 14 this year), our mid-week market is still our smallest. We will be looking at how this market can better serve our community and support local farms during the off season.
With your support, JCFM incubates small businesses, stimulates our economy, and brings our community together in celebration of local food, farms and art. By shopping and gathering with us you help foster community vibrancy. Thank you for your support! Please consider joining us as a member or business sponsor.
The Port Townsend Farmers Market opens on Saturday, April 6th, 2019. Mark your calendar and see you at the market! ~ Amanda