The Farmers’ Market’s Unseen Impact
The Adams County Farmers’ Market appears to be an inconspicuous and unimposing event. A passerby would likely only notice local farmers selling some fresh produce and those with a well trained eye might even spot the local Mennonites selling fresh strawberries. But as I have come to learn, the farmers’ market attempts to address short and long term issues that are prevalent not just in Adams county but the entire nation as well. This effort, which goes largely unnoticed by the general public, places an emphasis on using existing resources found in the community to solve issues.
One issue in the community and in Pennsylvania in general is poverty. As of 2014, Adams county is reported as having a poverty rate of 10.8 percent while the statewide average is 13.6%. This report is unlikely to have accounted for the sizable migrant population found within Adams county which would increase the poverty rate. With this in mind, the county has tried to drastically reduce poverty any way it can. One such way is with the farmers’ market, which is trying to become more accessible to low income individual and households by accepting electronic benefits transfers (or “food stamps”). Customers using their granted money to buy fresh produce at the market will have their money matched at up to $10 (so if you ask for $10 you get an additional $10 free of charge). This encourages buying healthy items, supporting local producers, and provides low income individuals and families an alternative to stores like Wal-Mart. Benefits at the Adams county farmers’ market are also extended to those qualifying for the Pennsylvania wide Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).
Other have come to recognize the important role the farmers’ market plays in healthy eating. For example, one of the largest donors to the farmers’ market is the Gettysburg Hospital. The hospital sees that it is in its and the communities best interest if people eat healthy foods. The hospital believes that by eating healthy foods there will be fewer medical issues or ailments in the future, thus reducing the hospital’s expenses in the long run. In short, the hospital is spending money now to save money later. It is donors like the Gettysburg Hospital that allow the farmers’ market to provide financial incentives for eating healthily.
More can still be done of course. There could be more vendors, more donors, and less restrictions on the market. But at this stage, the farmers’ market has been a positive and growing initiative that seeks to not introduce new ideas but to build upon those already created.
Nathan Kumar ’17