Fort Chamber Celebrates National Farmers Market Week
The US Department of Agriculture recently released a proclamation making August 4-10, 2019 National Farmers Market Week with the goal to increase awareness of the role local farmers markets play in creating healthy communities and in building prosperity among farmers and small businesses.
The Fort Farmers Market began as a program of the Fort Atkinson Area Chamber of Commerce in 2002 when a group of local producers started selling regularly in Parking Lot 7 across from the Post Office. By 2007, the market had grown sufficiently to warrant paid staff to manage the four-month market; 18 vendors participated and live music was added. Since then, the market has grown to year-round programming including four winter markets, 26 summer markets and a holiday market. During the summer, the Fort Farmers Market proudly hosts 36+ vendors each Saturday with over 50+ vendors at the monthly Arts Saturdays. Its goal is to celebrate local foods and arts while nurturing neighbor-to-producer relationships, cultivating a healthy community and integrating sustainable practices.
One of the ways the Fort Farmers Market achieves its mission is by providing SNAP/EBT card processing. For those who qualify, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) provides a debit card which citizens can use at the market, to spend on healthy food grown by neighbors. This follows a national trend: According to the USDA’s 2017 data, there has been a 35.2% increase since 2012 in SNAP spending at farmers markets, resulting in $22,440,312 spent in 2017.
The Fort Farmers Market is also responsible for 31 markets a year that provide direct farm sales to eager shoppers. The Fort Farmers Market is proud to be a hyper-local market with the majority of vendors from less than 30 miles away.
Farmers markets support Wisconsin’s small and diversified farms, and circulate money back into local economies. In 2016, 115,000 farmers sold directly to consumers, generating $3 billion revenue, with more than $710 million in sales at farmers markets, according to a 2016 NASS Local Food Marketing Practices Survey. The survey also noted that more than 80 percent of all direct market food sales occurred within 100 miles of the farm.
At the Fort Farmers Market there is free live music by local artists every Saturday from 9am-11am and free kids’ activities at the Kids Art Tent. The third Saturday of each month is designated “Wellness Saturday” with additional wellness booths and the Kids PoP (Power of Produce) program. The last Saturday of each month includes additional local arts vendors and a bounce house. Frequent shopper cards are also available at the Community Information Booth, and shoppers can earn points to be redeemed for additional produce.
Kaitlin Myren-Celkis, Fort Farmers Market Manager, invites the community to join in the National Farmers Market Week celebration. “ During August you can stop at the Community Information Booth to get your free “I Love Farmers Markets” sticker or temporary tattoo and join in the #LoveMyMarket Social Media campaign. We invite everyone to come down and enjoy all that the market has to offer.”
The Fort Farmers Market is located on Milwaukee Avenue across from the post office and is open every Saturday from May through October, 8:00am-noon. For more weekly updates and special offers, follow @FortFarmersMarket on Facebook or visit their website at www.fortfarmersmarket.com . The Fort Farmers Market is a program of the Fort Atkinson Chamber of Commerce – supporting local vendors and a healthy community