Ohio is gearing up for the heart of farmers market season across the state. On March 9th, the Ohio Farmers Market Network hosted the Ohio Farmers Market Conference at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus.
This conference allowed farmers market managers, volunteers, and nonprofit affiliates to share new ideas and successful initiatives for others to implement at their own market.
Southeast Ohio was well represented at the conference with members of ACEnet, Community Food Initiatives, and the Athens Farmers Market in attendance.
ACEnet was represented by staff members Tessa Wieneke, Food Access Partners Coordinator, and Brianna McGuire, Value Chain Coordinator.
Susie Huser and Reggie Morrow of Community Food Initiatives (CFI) presented the Donation Station model, which is used at the Athens Farmers Market, and how it has expanded to improve food access in Southeast Ohio.
Donation Station volunteers are present at participating farmers markets to accept monetary and excess produce donations. With the monetary donations, they purchase produce from the Athens Farmers Market, Chesterhill Produce Auction, and additional local farmers to distribute to food access partners and food pantries throughout the greater Athens area.
Tanya Hire, Athens Farmers Market Market Manager, and Ronda Clark of Blackberry Sage Farm spoke about the Ann Fugate Memorial Fund and how it is used to support beginning farmers interested in selling their yields at the Athens Farmers Market.
The conference included speakers and guests from across the state of Ohio. A roundtable discussion was facilitated for all attendees to share how their markets handle special events, engaging children and families, and problem solving.
Representatives from the Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market spoke about finding financial support from community sponsors and the importance of building relationships.
To conclude the event, a representative from the Ohio Department of Agriculture presented on Cottage Food Laws and how to help farmers market vendors navigate them.
Check out your local farmers markets this spring in Athens, Meigs, Shawnee, or wherever you call home! For more information on our regional farmers markets, please visit our Farmers Market page.
Community Update by ACEnet Value Chain Coordinator, Brianna McGuire
Photo Credit: Ohio Farmers Market Network, Community Food Initiatives