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Farmer Friday: Alachua County Farmers Market EBT Program

We are excited to highlight the Alachua County Farmers Market EBT Program for today’s Farmer Friday!

Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.

We encourage you to join us as a member to allow us to continue this invaluable work.

Alachua County Farmers Market EBT Program

Since 2011, Florida Organic Growers has operated the Alachua County Farmers Market EBT program, which enables and encourages SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) recipients to shop at two of our local farmers markets – the Alachua County Farmers Market and the Union Street Farmers Market.

Our EBT program has made fresh, healthy, local produce available to Alachua County residents in need and for many who have not had access otherwise.

Between 2011 and today, the program has:

  • Completed 5,885 federal nutrition benefit transactions
  • $132,963 in revenue generated by Fresh Access Bucks and federal benefits on Florida-grown fruits and vegetables
  • 2 farmers markets participating with SNAP
  • More than 70 participating farmers

John Bitter
John Bitter and Amy Van Scoik, founders and owners of Frog Song Organics, a 28-acre certified organic production farm located in Hawthorne, have benefited greatly from the EBT program.

“The EBT program is a huge benefit to our business and to other local growers,” said Amy.

“We believe that healthy food should be accessible to anyone who wants to eat it. FOG’s EBT program has truly worked to help build a successful farmers market and to support local growers by widening the base of potential shoppers. The EBT program purchases represent a significant part of our business in Alachua County, with over $12,706 in tokens (of all types) accepted in 2014.”

To find out more about our EBT program, please check out this great video.

Part of FOG’s mission is to advocate for the expansion of local food access and increase business for family scale farmers.

Please join us as we continue our fight to provide healthy food access for all and for this next generation of family scale farmers and become a FOG member today!

Farmer Friday: Local Food Promotion Program

It’s Friday and you know what that means…it’s Farmer Friday!

Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.

We encourage you to join us as a member to allow us to continue this invaluable work.

 

Local Food Promotions Program grant and its impact in north central Florida  

FranciscoThis past April, Florida Organic Growers held a farmer workshop at KYV Farm, a Certified Organic farm in northeast Florida owned by Francisco Arroyo.

Farmers in the area had expressed interest in learning more about farmer cooperatives, so FOG invited Caleb Crowell from New River Organic Growers to discuss his experience managing a farmer cooperative in North Carolina.

After Caleb’s presentation, FOG gathered a group of farmers and community members to discuss the basic features and benefits of farmer cooperatives primarily in the Gainesville, Live Oak and Jacksonville areas.

The goal of these discussions was to investigate the feasibility and potential opportunities of a farmer cooperative to increase our community’s access to local, sustainably grown produce and create new markets for farmers. There had been a strong interest for many farmers in the area to establish a cooperative and several informal meetings between growers have already been held.

A farm cooperative would allow farms to aggregate purchasing, marketing and selling to reduce costs and reach a broader marketplace.KYV Farm

In order to explore this topic further, FOG applied for the Farm Bill’s Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grant for a planning year. This effort is in partnership with farmers, IFAS County Extension offices, farm-to-school and food hub organizers, health departments and various other stakeholders.

FOG submitted the grant with Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG). The grant will focus on Alachua,Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Suwannee and Union counties. This is the target area, however if there are growers outside these counties, they are more than welcome to participate in meetings or the planning process.

FOG is very excited about the potential of this project and look forward to seeing what comes from of this planning process.

Part of FOG’s mission is to advocate for collaborative efforts that expand local food access and increase business of family scale farmers.

Please join us as we continue our fight for this next generation of family scale farmers and become a FOG member today! 

Farmer Friday: Conservation

We are excited for Farmer Friday today!

Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.

We encourage you to join us as a member to allow us to continue this invaluable work.

Conservation and Organic Farming

FOG has played an active role in preserving Florida through conservation efforts.

Since 2008, FOG has been involved with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), both nationally and statewide, and was instrumental in helping them recognize organic farming in regard to conservation. Organic production systems exemplify agricultural conservation practices and this is a natural partnership.

The NRCS is a branch of the USDA that was established in 1935 to help insure that water and soil was adequately conserved on farm, grazing and forest lands. It is FOG’s belief there are no better stewards of the land then organic farmers but because of years of tailoring of programs for conventional farms many organic farms weren’t able to access many of the resources and programs of NRCS. FOG worked with National Center for Appropriate Technology to help insure that organic farms would be recognized and eligible for NRCS programs.

Conservation is the heart of Worden Farm, an 85-acre Certified Organic family vegetable farm located in Punta Gorda.

Worden Farm6

The farm is part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.

Chris and Eva WordenIn 2005, Chris and Eva Worden, owners of Worden Farm, installed a state-of-the-art micro irrigation system to help with water conservation. The irrigation system prevents evaporation and provides a slow drip to crops. The farm also uses retention ponds surrounding the perimeter as well as water gates and drainage ditches.

The Wordens planted native species and are continuing to remove invasive species from the farm. They also planted numerous trees to provide wind breaks in order to prevent crop damage.

The Wordens also bought a neighboring property full of pine woods and plan to leave it untouched.

Part of FOG’s mission is to advocate for conservation and promote the sustainability of beautiful Florida for the next generation of family scale farmers.

Please join us as we continue our fight for this next generation of family scale farmers and become a FOG member today!

Farmer Friday: Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program

Farmer Friday continues!

Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.

We encourage you to join us as a member to allow us to continue this invaluable work.

Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program

FOG was key in the development of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), a program that offers training and development opportunities for the next generation of farmers.

Marty Mesh, FOG’s executive director, recognized years ago the need to train the next generation of farmers. He understood that, without the new generation of farmers, our country would be in a dire situation.

FOG, along with other organizations, worked tirelessly to integrate the grant into the 2002 Farm Bill.

Thanks to our hard work and persistence, the BFRDP grant is still in existence today and was included in the 2014 Farm Bill that passed earlier this year.  This program hopes to reverse the growing trend of aging farmers, which, as of the 2012 Census, averaged 58 years old.

Geraldson Community Farm, a 20-acre Certified Organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm located in Bradenton, is one farm that benefitted from the BFRDP grant.

In collaboration with Florida West Coast RC&D Council, Geraldson used the BFRDP grant to implement a three-phase farmer training program that incorporated mentorship through a multi-farm farm
apprenticeship program, group training modules, and one-on-one technical assistance.

Throughout this three-year project there were over a dozen apprenticeships provided on Geraldson Community Farm and Gamble Creek Farm for new and beginning farmers – 40 percent of whom were women farmers and 35 percent socially disadvantaged or historically underserved farmers. Many of these apprentices went on to develop their own farm or food-related businesses or held management positions after receiving hands-on mentorship and training in crop planning, CSA management, farmers stand operation, equipment usage, etc.

More than 150 farmers and food-related business startups received direct technical assistance through this project. Many of them received help with business plan development, marketing assistance, or access to federal cost-share programs, while others received guidance on start-up funding and loan acquisition. Through the training modules, more than 100 farmers were provided instruction
on crop planning, planning for market sales, business planning, exploring new marketing outlets, EBT sales, and more.

Part of FOG’s mission is to advocate for the education, growth and development of our state and country’s next generation of family scale farmers.

Please join us as we continue our fight for this next generation of family scale farmers and become a FOG member today!

Farmer Friday: Organic Certification Cost Share and Bee Heaven Farm

Welcome to the first Farmer Friday!

Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.

We encourage you to join us as a member to allow us to continue this invaluable work.


Organic Certification Cost Share: How FOG helped make it happen

FOG was key in the development of the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program. In 1999, Florida, along with Minnesota and North Carolina, experimented with a statewide cost share certification program to reimburse organic producers a portion of their organic certification costs. FOG Executive Director Marty Mesh’s goal was to provide a way for small farmers to continue organic certification without being priced out of the marketplace due to the escalating certification costs.

Due to overwhelming interest and great results, the program continued in 2000 and 2001 and the language for the cost share program was used as a model in the 2002 Farm Bill. avos

Thanks to FOG’s hard work and persistence, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program is still in existence and was included in the 2014 Farm Bill that passed earlier this year.

Margie-n-Russell-avosFarmer Margie Pikarsky, owner of Bee Heaven Farm, a five-acre diversified family farm in Homestead, has benefitted from the cost share program and is a strong proponent of organic certification.

“The organic cost share program has helped make organic certification affordable for me, and for small farmers everywhere,” said Margie. “I always hear people saying that they can’t afford organic certification because it costs too much. They expect to spend $1000 or more and just can’t justify it. These folks don’t know about the cost share program, so I explain it to them.”

“I’ve been taking advantage of this cost share every year since it began, except for one year that the program wasn’t funded. That year took a bite out of us, so I’m happy to see that it’s been funded again in the Farm Bill. I’m grateful that we have a champion like Marty Mesh fighting for organic farmers!”

Part of FOG’s mission is to advocate for family scale farmers and make sure they aren’t left behind as policies such as, Organic Certification Cost Share Program are developed.

 Please join us as we continue our fight for family scale farmers and become a FOG member today!

 

October Events

Join us in October as we partner with organizations around the state to host workshops and events!

Date Event Description
3-4 Florida Local Food Summit The FIRST Annual Florida Local Food Summit will leave participants inspired, connected and well equipped to face challenges associated with improving our state’s local food system. We aim to provide attendees the technical assistance and networking opportunities to grow all areas of local food from field to fork and beyond, and mobilize their communities to create positive change.http://www.floridafoodsummit.com/

 

4 Venice Farmers Market Fresh Access Bucks Grand Opening Join the Venice Farmers Market, Venice’s City Council and County Commissioner Christine Robinson for the Fresh Access Bucks grand opening!http://thevenicefarmersmarket.com/

 

7 Eat Local, Give Local The Beaches Green Market & Atlantic Beach Mid-Week Market are hosting Eat Local, Give Local, a fundraising event for Fresh Access Bucks. With the generous support of Jaxon Social, the evening includes farm-to-table cuisine, craft cocktails and live music by Whetherman. Admission is $75. Tickets may be purchased online at www.beacheslocalfoodnetwork.org
16 Englewood Farmers Market Fresh Access Bucks Kick-Off Event Join the Englewood Farmers Market for their Fresh Access Bucks kickoff event and celebrate access to healthy food for all!http://englewoodfarmersmarket.org/site/

 

18-19 Grow Fest! Grow Fest! is about connecting the dots between the farm or garden and the dinner table. It’s about providing the knowledge and materials to grow, forage, buy, prepare, and eat good, local, seasonal food. At the Redland Fruit and Spice Park, visitors can attend demos, workshops and presentations, listen to live music and purchase gardening supplies. FOG will be present tabling with information about our programs, with organic juice and water for sale.http://beeheavenfarm.com/events/

 

22 Zen Pumpkin Soup Cooking Demo Learn how to prepare Zen Pumpkin Soup (Locally sourced Seminole pumpkin) cooking demonstration Wednesday, October 22nd @ 5:30PM at the Downtown Union Street Farmers Market. The demo will be presented by Stefanie Samara Hamblen and sponsored by Florida Organic Growers. 

Accompanying the cooking demonstration, there will be a nutrition education table providing information on the nutritional quality of seasonal produce, healthy eating habits and other easy-to-prepare cooking recipes. The table will be run by UF Nutrition and Dietetics student volunteers. There will be opportunities to win food preserving goodies and coupons.

Food Day Cooking Demo 2014

 

25-26 New Leaf Market Farm Tour Thirty-four local farms are opening their doors and inviting you to experience farm life. Each farm is offering something special. Families can enjoy tours that include barnyard animals, farm-fresh goods and refreshments. You can attend a workshop on beekeeping, take a hayride or talk to farmers who are committed to organic production. Visit working cattle and goat ranches, a dairy or a winery. And of course, purchase amazingly fresh goods directly from the farm.http://www.newleafmarket.coop/seminars-events/farm-tour

 

25 FAB Family Fun Day at the Venice Farmers Market Join the Venice Farmers Market to celebrate their Fresh Access Bucks program. The event includes FAB Magic w/ Glenn Gary, along with Suzanne Andrews, Mother’s Cupboard, conducting a cooking demo with items from the market, and Elaine Bronson, Aqua Zainey One Stroke Painting, doing face painting.  There will also be a ‘Planting Garden’ workshop with Dr. Robert Kluson of UF/IFAS Sarasota County Extension.
http://thevenicefarmersmarket.com/ 
27 Seven Days of Local Delights FOG is participating again this year in Tallahassee’s Eat Local Week, known as the Seven Days of Local Delights. FOG will be hosting a discussion on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), exploring their social, health and environmental impacts. It will be at the Miccosukee Root Cellar from 6:30-7:30 at the 1311 Miccosukee Rd, Tallahassee, FL 32308.http://redhillsfarmalliance.com/events/seven-days-of-local-delights-2014/

 

29 Sarasota Eat Local Week FOG will be participating in Sarasota’s Eat Local Week, tabling at the event and providing educational materials related to sustainable food systems. http://www.transitionsrq.org/food/week/ 
30 Englewood Farmers Market Englewood Farmers Market will be hosting a family fun day. FOG will have a table promoting Fresh Access Bucks and helping with market tours.http://englewoodfarmersmarket.org/site/

Farmers Market Focus: Las Olas Sunday Market, Fort Lauderdale

Southbound, we go! Today, we are spotlighting the Las Olas Sunday Market in Fort Lauderdale! Ginger Root

This market officially opened in March of 2013 and sees around 3,000 attendees per market day in season.

Located at 333 E Las Olas Blvd. and SE 4th Ave., the market is open Sundays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. year round.

The market features produce, baked goods, prepared foods, seafood (October to May), grass-fed beef, pork and free range chicken and eggs, along with locally grown orchids, raw organic treats, fresh baked goods, gluten free products, Pappardelles Pasta, prepared foods from Spain, Spices and teas, French pottery, olive oils, soy candles, artisan soaps, aroma therapy products, biscotti, honey, and designer gem stone jewelry.

produce 2Through a partnership with Florida Organic Growers, the Las Olas Sunday Market offer Fresh Access Bucks, a program that doubles the amount of Florida grown fruits & vegetables SNAP recipients can purchase at the market.

For more information on the Las Olas Sunday Market, like them on Facebook!

For a complete list of Farmers Markets that participate in Fresh Access Bucks, please visit the Fresh Access Bucks page.

For a list of all farmers markets in Florida, please visit our map!

Farmers Market Focus: Frenchtown Heritage Marketplace, Tallahassee

Today, we move up north to the Panhandle and spotlight Frenchtown Heritage Marketplace in Tallahassee.

The market opened on a regular weekly schedule on April 18, 2014 and is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the corner of Georgia and Macomb in the historic Frenchtown neighborhood.

10325218_239132796295503_2690624545167597065_nOn an average market day, half of the vendors sell organic produce they have grown. One vendor sells local honey and another sells local sausage and provides samples. They also have gourmet popsicles, homemade jams and jellies, baked goods and occasionally eggs and dairy.

The mission of the market is to be a community-led solution to food insecurity for neighborhood residents. The market is the only market in the area that offers both EBT access and Fresh Access Bucks, a program offered by Florida Organic Growers that doubles the amount of Florida grown fruits & vegetables SNAP recipients can purchase at the market.

The market provides nutrition education for consumers and economic opportunities for local and regional food producers. It draws positive attention to a community striving to revitalize.

The market is holding their annual fundraiser, Frenchtown Heritage Fest 2014, on Saturday, September 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The festival will feature art and food vendors, live jazz and blues, fitness classes, health screenings, kids’ art activities and the always-exciting Double Dutch show, including the inaugural Frenchtown Fresh Challenge, a cooking competition that challenges contestants to create a winning meal using fresh, local ingredients.

The Frenchtown Fresh Challenge is a first-of-its kind cooking competition designed to draw attention to the critical issues of childhood obesity and minority health disparities in an empowering, solutions-based approach to health awareness.

Partners of the market include the City of Tallahassee, Frenchtown Community Development Corporation, Frenchtown Neighborhood Improvement Association, Inc., Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council and Tallahassee COPE Coalition. market_opening day

For more information on the event or to sponsor, please visit the market website.

For more information about the market, please like them on Facebook!

For a complete list of farmers markets that participate in Fresh Access Bucks, please visit the Fresh Access Bucks page.

For a list of all farmers markets in Florida, please visit our map!

Farmers Market Focus: Upper Eastside Farmers Market and Southwest Community Farmers Market, Miami

Today we move south and highlight the Upper East Side Farmers Market and the Southwest Community Farmers Market, both located in Miami.

The markets were developed by the Urban Oasis Project, a nonprofit organization based in Miami whose mission is to provide more access to fresh, healthy foods, support local farms and gardens and create opportunities for people of all socioeconomic levels to eat fresh, local food.

1620738_606534462757329_1994594550_nCreated in February 2011, the Upper East Side Farmers Market is held Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Legion Park, on Biscayne Blvd at NE 66th St. The market features south Florida produce from Verde Organic Farm and many others, as well as live music and local artists

The market is one of the few “local food only” farmers markets in Miami-Dade. Held at a great, convenient location, many people walk, ride bikes and push strollers to spend their day at the market. Market goers partake in great juices and prepared foods and leave with the best produce from farms and gardens in south Florida.

The Southwest Community Farmers Market was developed in November 2012 and moved to its current location at Tropical Park in March 2013.

Held Saturdays, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the market is located at Tropical Park, 7900 SW Bird Road, just west of the Palmetto Expressway. The market offers more than 20 vendors selling all agricultural products including local produce, prepared foods, juices, honey, ceviche, coffee, breads, plants and plant related items.

The market is a community market where they encourage the local customers to grow their own food, to sell surplus at the market and to share seeds via their seeds exchange basket.They have an information table where customers can find food related information and where children can always find a fun activity to do.

The Southwest market serves South Miami, Coral Gables, Westchester, Kendall and other areas of Miami-Dade County and is a relatively young market with an increasing crowd of regular customers who appreciate fresh, locally grown food. The market’s weekly newsletter is fast becoming an important resource for everyone.

The Southwest market also offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program for the Little River Market Garden. 1658446_728947250502653_70799733180469646_o

Through a partnership with Florida Organic Growers, both markets offer Fresh Access Bucks, a program that doubles the amount of Florida grown fruits & vegetables SNAP recipients can purchase at the market.

For more information on the Upper East Side Farmers Market, like them on Facebook!

For more information on the Southwest Community Farmers Market, like them on Facebook!

For a complete list of Farmers Markets that participate in Fresh Access Bucks, please visit the Fresh Access Bucks page.

For a list of all farmers markets in Florida, please visit our map!

Farmers Market Focus: Brevard County Farmers Market, Melbourne

In honor of National Farmers Market Week (August 3-9), today we are spotlighting the Brevard County Farmers Market in Melbourne.

2014-03-13 15.22.19The project to develop the Brevard County Farmers Market started in 2009 and it officially opened in 2010. The market is open every Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Wickham Park Stables off North Wickham Road in Melbourne.

The mission of the Brevard County Farmers Market is to build a healthy, vibrant, and prosperous community through linking regional farmers, fishermen, growers and producers who sell fresh, local produce with consumers. This puts the best food in the hands of those who most need and want them, and strengthening the local economy.

All of the vendors are screened before being accepted as a vendor. This process ensures that products sold are grown or produced in Florida and are agricultural in nature. Each vendor must produce or grow at least 50% of the products sold at our market.

The market will be running alongside the Brevard County Fair on Thursday, October 23 and October 30.

In partnership with Florida Organic Growers, the market offers Fresh Access Bucks, a program that doubles the amount of Florida grown fruits & vegetables SNAP recipients can purchase at the market.

The market is working on a development plan with the county parks and recreation department to create a facility that provides education, research, and community offerings in concert with the University of Florida through the Brevard UF/IFAS Extension.

For more information on the Brevard County Farmers Market, like them on Facebook or visit their website!

For a complete list of farmers markets that participate in Fresh Access Bucks, please visit the Fresh Access Bucks page.

For a list of all farmers markets in Florida, please visit our map!