tractor in a field

Hoosier Farmers Market Association, Inc. Wins Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant

The Hoosier Farmers Market Association (HFMA) was one of 52 organizations nationwide to be awarded a U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grant in September 2017 for their Growing Indiana Markets Initiative. Totaling nearly $500,000, this award significantly increases Indiana farmers and farmers’ markets capacities to reach audiences interested in local products. The HFMA was able to leverage the IndyEast Promise Zone designation on their federal application, helping secure this award.

As demand for locally grown products increases, it is important to promote the farms, farmers markets, farm stands, and CSA’s (Community Sustained Agriculture shares) on the supply side. According to Hoosier Farmers Market Association’s Executive Director, Christina McDougall, “These direct producer-to-consumer opportunities retain $0.67 of each dollar consumers spend within their own communities thereby catalyzing local economic development.” Farmer to consumer interactions foster awareness about fruit and vegetable seasonality as well as transparency with the food system. McDougall adds, “Knowing your farmers and the fresh food they grow fosters stronger and more frequent social connections. Farmers markets shoppers experience up to twelve times as many human interactions than at a supermarket.” This grant award provides IndyEast Promise Zone producers and consumers expanded opportunities for participation in their own community. The Indy Winter Farmers Market in the Circle City Industrial Complex takes place annually from November to April. The Growing Indiana Markets Initiative will enhance existing activities of Indy Winter Farmers Market and its farmers with Near Eastside consumers and surrounding neighborhoods.

Along with activity expansion to surrounding farmers markets, the FMPP grant allow HFMA the opportunity to extend services to farm stands as well as CSA programs. These hyper-local often “veggie box” programs support rural and urban farmers while offering fresh, local produce to consumers—an approach to addressing low-food access in neighborhoods lacking grocery stores (known as food deserts). McDougall and her team are creating a user-friendly online database in which consumers can discover farms, farm stands, farmers markets, and CSA options in their area.

The Hoosier Farmers Market Association is partnering with the Promise Zone area in yet another way; with the rollout of the Growing Indiana Markets Initiative, HFMA seeks to grow its team. They are looking for Eastside representatives in the roles of volunteers, advisors, board members, interns, and apprentices. The Association welcomes people of all skill levels to experience farmers markets. Follow this link to learn more and submit an application.

The IndyEast Promise Zone looks forward to the rollout of this grant program and is prepared to lend a helping hand whenever possible. The Promise Zone assists in building the capacity of organizations fulfilling a mission; as the Hoosier Farmers Market Association works to build the capacity of farmers and share consumer resources in our community, the Promise Zone will ensure new programs are strong, sustainable, and in the best interest of our residents.