MONTPELIER – The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is encouraging residents to support local producers next week for National Farmers Market Week, with this year’s campaign centered around the essential role they play in providing healthy local food during the pandemic.
Farmers markets were able to reopen early in the pandemic with strict safety guidelines, and officials say this season has highlighted the adaptability of Vermont markets while emphasizing the need for investment in local food systems.
“Farmers markets are essential to the life and livelihood of millions of shoppers and tens of thousands of farmers.” said Ben Feldman, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “But farmers markets don’t happen by accident. It takes the planning, organization, and execution of dedicated individuals and community organizations.”
There’s been a 30 percent increase in SNAP spending at farmers markets since 2013, and with unprecedented unemployment throughout Vermont, officials are doubling their efforts to provide food to those who need it most.
“This year, there was some additional funding from partners including Vermont Food Bank,” said Alissa Matthews, a market development specialist at the Agency of Agriculture. “From August through the end of October, they’ll be able to match every SNAP dollar spent at markets.”
Typically, Crop Cash provides a one-to-one match of 3SquaresVT/SNAP benefits, but until October, the Agency of Agriculture says Vermonters will have triple the spending power. That’s $3 in spending power for every $1 spent on fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs from vendors at the farmers markets.