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This Year Grow Something For Your Fellow Family In Need and Be Part of the Movement

(post, Menominee Historical Downtown Farmers' Market)

Well its that time of year again. Christmas  is over, and you pack up everything from last year, exchange your gifts for ones you want and watch as Seed Catalogs fill your mail box. The  latest new plants and seeds for 2011 have arrived and snow is still on the ground. .  Spring is in the air as the winter winds whip around the house As you curl up with a cup of hot chocolate  and  begin looking through them  trying to figure out which ones you want to try.  Maybe  a new seed  or a new plant this year, or stay with the ones that always worked.  May we suggest that you do one better  this year.  Why don’t you grow something   for your fellow family in need.  What? How you ask? Well let me explain .

In the past ten years there has been a grass root movement in the state of Michigan.  That  is  Farm Markets.   They have grown from 90 in 2000 to more than 220 today and growing yearly.   Also the government has realized that the food stamps that are handed out  to needy families are not receiving the proper nutrition of fresh fruit and vegetables.  So what is one to do about these two things? Let’s get them together.

The Michigan Farmers Market Association and the  Michigan Farmers Markets Food Assistance Partnership has been working together the last year helping farm markets across Michigan to receive grants to receive training and purchase Point of  Service (POS) machines  for food stamp participant. The program is now called  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)  benefits Via the Michigan Bridge Card .   These machines were first introduced  to three Michigan Farm Markets in 2006, to nearly 30 in 2009 and jumped to over 50 in 2010.  These machines not only accept cards from Michigan but any SNAP card in the United States making traveling customers access to fresh fruit and vegetables anywhere they go.  

These EBT Customers can purchase not only fresh fruit and vegetables, but meat, fish, eggs, and because of the new Cottage Law passed in 2010 they can also purchase homemade bread,  cookies,  pies, jams, jellies, and maple syrup from the farmers market., across Michigan.  The process works like this.  A booth is set up at the farmers market where the customer goes to swipe there card.  Once the POS machines approved the transaction,  the customer is given  farm market tokens which they  in turn use to purchase their food from the participating farmers and vendors in that market.  These farmers and vendors  turn these  tokens into the market manager who reimburses them with a check ,  following the clearance of the EBT Transaction. Which only takes a week.  The customers helps the local farmers and the farmers help feed a family in need. Keeping  the money in the community instead of the money going to the  grocery store  or convenience store buying from far away   cities and countries.

There is other programs to help our families  in need as well, The Woman, Infant, & Child  (WIC) program was first introduced to help woman with small children on getting milk, formula,  juices, cereal  and cheese from grocery stores.  Now they can use these coupons  called PROJECT FRESH to get fresh fruit and vegetables from farmers markets as well.  This program has expanded  to  The WISEWOMAN program, which  aims to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in under or uninsured women ages 40-64 through healthy lifestyle changes. Senior FRESH,was also added making sure our elderly are taken care of. 

Coupons for  the WISEWOMAN,  PROJECT FRESH  and also Senior FRESH   are used to get fresh fruit and vegetables in the diets where there needed most  and the same time keeping funds in the local community through the farmers market and participating farmers.

There is another grass root movement not only in Michigan but all across America.   The Green Movement.  Customers want to know where their food is coming from.   They have a real interest in talking to the farmers, gardeners or hobby farmers  on how it was grown, and when it was harvest.  They are tired of purchasing long distance fruit and vegetables which they don’t know what was injected in it to keep it fresh and paying for long distance  shipping prices  when they can buy it local,  it taste better, and is more healthy for them.  Again farmers feeding  the local and local supporting the farmers.

Families in need,  Green Movement.  Buying Local,  Staying Local? If you want to try something new this year and help feed the local families in need or not in need.  We do Need YOU.  The Menominee Historical Downtown Farmers Market  is a growing  farmers market with the latest Market Technology and  programs to help you  to succeed.

We have wireless EBT/Credit/Debit POS Machine for all  our customers.
EBT Market Tokens for SNAP customers to purchase at our market.
Market Money for purchase for Credit/Debt  customers to purchase  from farmers and vendors at our market.
Monthly meeting starting in January to train all farmers & Vendors to qualify to participate in  accepting  EBT Market Tokens. 
Our Manager has gone through the training to qualify to be Market Master for PROJECT FRESH /WISE WOMAN  Coupons program.
Yearly  Training programs for farmers  to qualify  to participate in accepting PROJECT FRESH/WISE WOMAN and Senior FRESH Coupons.
 Monthly meeting  started in January to train all farmers & vendors to qualify to participate in the Credit/Debit Market Money Program.
 We have the only Year around Farmers Market in Menominee. With sign up to participate in your choice of the Summer Market , Winter Market or both.
 Monthly Customer Incentives to help the customer to Know His Farmer Meet is Vendors.
 Monthly meetings on training for the do’s and don’ts of the Cottage Law.
Our manager is going through the Michigan Farmers Market Association  (MIFMA) Farmers Market Manager Certificate Program to pursue education, leadership, and skills development in topics essential to marker management.
As of December 2010 our Manager has a  one year seat on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Farmers Market Association. 
Our Market is Sponsored by the Menominee Downtown Business Association
Our Market is working with the Menominee Downtown Business Association and the Menominee Downtown  Development Authority on the growth and development and a permanent  building for our market.
*We are working with the Delta Menominee Health Department  and MSU  Extension and Michigan Food Assistance Partnership to help our fellow families in need for a program called Double Up Buck.  In Which if we receive it will allow our EBT Customers for one month receive the twice amount of tokens to purchase food at our farmers Market.

Please consider growing something for your local families.  We are looking for all vegetable, and fruit growers, All farmers homemakers who is considering on selling on the Cottage Law Products.  Licensed farmers for value added produces of cider, cheese, ice cream, elk, buffalo, meats, fish, .  We are looking for the specialty  craftsman of unusual items of  Wood crafts,  weavers,  jewelry makers, sewers, and quilters.  

Help our market grow from 20 vendors to our goal of 50 vendors in the 2011 year.
Our next  meeting will be February 14, 3:30PM at Spies Library in Menominee    If interested please call Lucy Pier at 906-863-8718.