A community of farmers and nonfarmers is growing in a Columbus neighborhood. Clintonville Farmers’ Market’s goal is to develop relationships between farmers and emerging underserved populations in the Clintonville area.
“One of the things that makes the Clintonville Farmers’ Market special is the sense of community between our producers and customers,” said Jen Bhaerman, the market’s board president. “Meaningful interactions take place every Saturday as people seek a connection with the farmers who take so much care in producing high quality food.”
The nonprofit market recently received a $2,000 Agricultural Action and Awareness Grant from Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation to enhance its efforts to connect farmers and customers. The competitively awarded grants support programs focusing on agricultural education, ecological and/or economic development.
Clintonville has a growing immigrant and refugee population, as well as long established residents who are facing economic challenges. With the grant funds, the market will work with Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center (CRC) to reach out to these populations and connect them with the market’s producers.
The resource center is a social services agency, located a few blocks from the market. A significant number of CRC clients fit the demographic the farmers’ market is trying to reach and it has resources, such as interpreters, that will help the efforts to connect its clients with the farmers.
Laura Zimmerman, market manager, said, “The goal of our project is to connect farmers and emerging customer groups in a mutually beneficial way by bringing underserved Clintonville area populations to the market for fresh food and nutrition, and bringing market development opportunities and profit to Ohio farmers and producers.”
Oftentimes, those facing economic challenges bypass farmers’ markets for “cheaper” food, due to the misconceptions about the cost of fresh food. Clintonville Farmers’ Market will reach out to these groups to show them the value and practicality of fresh, nutrition dense local food.
In April, the market will organize preseason meetings that will introduce the potential customers to the market’s farmers. Throughout the season, the market staff will continue to develop these connections.
“Customers develop real, ongoing relationships with farmers, returning to the market to purchase from them week after week,” Zimmerman said. “Customers learn from the farmers what is coming into season, how food was grown and how to best cook it. Farmers learn what customers like, how they cook and what they need.”
The market also will use its network of chefs, nutritionists and other nonprofits to develop demonstrations. Customers only have to walk a few feet from the demonstration tent to purchase the fresh food they just learned how to prepare.
Clintonville Farmers’ Market, the three-season, outdoor, Saturday morning market in the heart of the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus, will open for its 10th season May 5.
Read about the 12 community-building projects supported by more than $29,000 in Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation grants in 2012.
See how an Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation grant is focusing on food, families and community in Preble County
Find more farmers markets and local food providers near you with Our Ohio’s Buying Local Directory