FRESHFARM Markets


WHY WE VOLUNTEER
Volunteer Pic for Blog 2

I have had the pleasure of being FRESFHARM Markets’ Volunteer Coordinator for the past year.  We have relied on volunteers since the flagship market at Dupont Circle opened in 1997.  They help with everything from set up and break down, facilitating our Matching Dollars program at market, special market events like our popular Build-A-Bug and everything in between. They really become part of the market family.  Reflecting on the amazing work they do, I wondered: Why do these folks commit so much time, energy and hard work to FRESHFARM Markets without expecting anything in return? After all, so many of them have full-time jobs, busy lives and other places they could be on a frigid January morning or a gorgeous April afternoon than at market. So I asked…

Many of our volunteers started out as market shoppers. “I’m a dedicated amateur cook and was already a patron of the Dupont Circle market,” says David Robinson, a volunteer veteran.  “I figured I should give back to such a good cause. By making market patrons feel more at home and at ease, we can increase the connections between local shoppers and the source of their food.” Today, David brings his years of volunteer experience to bear on the Silver Spring market, which he appreciates for its transit-friendly location, diverse clientele, and relaxed vibe.

Mariah Halperin started out as a volunteer at FRESHFARM Market by the White House. “Having conversations with all the customers who would come to the Market Info booth gave me an appreciation for how much a farmers’ market can mean to a community.  It made me realize that I wanted to be a market manager myself.”  FRESHFARM hired Mariah to manage several markets last September.  “I now get to see even more of the immense behind-the-scenes work that goes into putting on such great farmers markets.”

Luis Warner volunteers week after week helping break down our Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market. Asked how long he has been volunteering with us, he shrugged, “Honestly, it’s such a blast that I forget.” Even for an amateur chef like Luis there is much more to market than his beloved tomatoes and kale. “To me it’s not just about impacting local agriculture. I believe, by supporting the market and making good food affordable to more people, we can inspire change.”  David absolutely agrees, “I love that we make shopping at farmers markets more affordable for those receiving government nutrition benefits.”

According to April Israel, a Farmland Feast volunteer, “These markets offer a unique crossroads for several different types of people – producers, consumers, educators and advocates. Being able to support these connections in a safe and friendly space is one of the most important things to me and what I strive to achieve through my volunteer work.

Whether it’s the Matching Dollars program, the farmers, the shoppers or the food movement as a whole, volunteering is about sharing what you love about farmers markets with others. It’s about giving back to a community that you are a part of and according to Luis, “walking away with something more at the end of that experience.”

Interested in volunteering with us? We’re looking for reliable, energetic folks who love local food and farmers markets. Email me to find out more.

~ by Sam Giffin, Markets Manager and Volunteer Coordinator for FRESHFARM Markets 

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THE DEAL WITH DILLS IN WINTER
Whats the Dill Blog Pic

This winter, I’ve been the deliverer of a lot of bad pickle news. I really don’t like disappointing pregnant ladies asking for District Dills or Kicky Koshers. Unfortunately, I went from “the pickle lady” to the, well, it’s hard to top that nickname. No pickles? A pickle company with out pickles?! Why? The answer to that question is quite simple: it’s cold and cucumbers can’t grow around here in the winter.

Now, fellow pickle lover, you might be scratching your head. The grocery store has cucumbers right now! Long, thin-skinned English cucumbers that you might slice up into a salad. Short and thin Persian cucumbers you might put on a veggie platter. And, perhaps, fat, thick-skinned “slicer” cucumbers. The kind you might see on a sandwich at Subway. Slicer cucumbers are grown in fields and are mostly known as a commodity vegetable. In the winter, most of them are shipped in from Mexico.

If you’re making vinegar pickles, slicer cucumbers will do the trick. For us to make barrel fermented pickles, slicer cucumber skin is too thick and there’s too much moisture, which can cause bloating. On the other hand, thin-skinned cucumbers, which are grown in greenhouses, turn to mush when fermented in salt brine. That’s why some cucumbers come waxed or wrapped in plastic. However, plastic-wrapped cucumbers are not the answer! When you’re a pickle company and you can’t make cucumber pickles, you start asking questions. Here is where we started:

It takes cucumbers about 50 to 60 days to grow. Sunlight and warm temperatures are essential for their growth. In this area, cucumbers can be grown from May to September. Farmers will do a second planting in July – simply meaning, they plant a second round of cucumbers in July that will be picked two months later.

After the cucumbers are picked from the plant, they are extremely perishable. Simply put, during long transit times, cucumbers perspire and lose their moisture. As they perspire, the cucumbers lose their shape, and dents and bumps begin to form. Dented cucumbers become mushy in the pickle barrel. Minimizing time from field to barrel ensures a crunchier pickle.

So what is the perfect pickling cucumber? If you pick up a seed catalog, you’ll see many types of pickling cucumbers, including the well-known variety Kirby. During cucumber season, we get a lot of our pickling cucumbers from West Virginia from Calvin of Bigg Riggs Farm and from Eli of Spring Valley Farm and Orchard. They grow pickling cucumber varieties with skins that are thicker than common greenhouse varieties, but thinner than slicer cucumbers. They’re low in moisture and have small seed cavities. The bumps on the outside of the cucumber are facing outward. When picked at the right size, these short, bumpy cucumbers make crunchy pickles with a hint of cucumber sweetness.

We love working with farmers we met at the farmers markets. We’re always looking for more growers! So what about the other months? And why can’t we find good pickling cucumbers during the coldest, winter months? It may be below freezing, but the grocery store has peaches and nectarines from another continent! To fully answer this question, here’s a brief lesson on the pickling industry.

Today, a few national pickle processors exist. I’m guessing pickles, like meat, produce and grain, followed a path of delocalization as the food industry became more industrialized. Today, almost all pickling cucumbers are grown for processors. Cucumber farms sprung up around these processors. Many of the farms grew primarily for these pickle companies. This was a type of “contract crop,” whether the contract was a handshake or a cultivated relationship between grower and processor.

Pickling cucumbers are shipped by the truckload directly from farm to processor in watermelon crates holding 2000 pounds of cucumbers. These big operations aren’t set up to do business with small pickle companies. Additionally, produce distributors and wholesale produce markets don’t regularly carry pickling cucumbers. This is both a supply and demand side issue – pickling cucumbers are first sold to their large “contract” buyers and small pickle processors looking for pickling cucumbers that can be barrel fermented are few.

For farmers, pickling cucumbers are not a high-dollar crop because they are sold to another middleman. Processors add a layer between grower and the final consumer – another layer looking to drive down costs. This means the cost of growing in greenhouses – both the initial investment and cost to heat it – isn’t justified for pickling cucumbers, but is for specialty cucumbers like Persian and English cucumbers.

Concentrations of pickling cucumber farms are found in Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Texas. Mt. Olivet, the largest pickle company in the United States, is based in North Carolina. Vlasic’s processing plant is in Michigan. Also in Michigan? A family that controls one of the largest share of farms growing pickling cucumbers in the United States. Even during the coldest months in Florida and Texas, like right now, pickling cucumbers aren’t growing. This still leaves a gap in the growing season. What are the Vlasics and Mt. Olivets to do?

Large pickle processors not only have their own growers, but their own storage. Cucumber fermentation tank yards can have rows of tanks. Open top tanks with a capacity of 10,000 gallons can hold a thousand bushels of cucumbers. This storage brine has a salinity of 6% to 10%. (To put that in perspective, our salt brine has around 3% salinity. Imagine our pickles two to three times saltier.) When those pickles are ready to be packed into jars, they are washed and flavored with “cover brine” and spices.

Years ago, I read an article about Wal-Mart that mentioned Vlasic pickles. The image of a one-gallon jar weighing 12 pounds has stuck with me all these years. Vlasic was selling this one-gallon jar of pickles at Wal-Mart for $2.97. Vlasic’s revenue soared, but not their profits. A hedge fund took over Vlasic. Consequently, one of Vlasic’s processing plants, this one in Delaware, was closed. In the media, the story focused on the relationship between the pickle maker and pickle seller. What about the pickle grower? Well, their story wasn’t told. I have my guesses: Some farmers sold their land for non-agricultural use. Others changed crops. Bigger farms absorbed small farms as Vlasic’s margins were further squeezed.

In this strange world, someone at the top decided to make more pickles in Michigan and ship them to the east coast. Someone made the calculus between the diesel budget and the nearby cucumber budget. And the pickle processing plant in Delaware that closed? It now packs chickens for shipment to Korea. We pay two to four times the average wholesale pricing to buy great cucumbers from nearby. We like sourcing quality cucumbers that are bumpy and sweet. We like knowing the great folks that grow and pick our cucumbers. We don’t mind paying for a quality product. We ask our customers, even the pregnant ladies, to do just that.

Right now, the only fresh pickling cucumbers are being grown in Mexico. They can spend over a week in transit by the time we pick them up from a distributor. Dented, soft cucumbers do not often make a delicious, crunchy pickle. This year, we decided to stop making pickles until we could get fresher cucumbers.

Perhaps there’s a greenhouse in our future or brine tanks out in West Virginia. Cracking this pickle “nut” has just begun. We’re excited to see where it leads us. This winter, we’ve been fermenting kimchi, kraut and green beans, which we fondly call “skinny pickles.” Come visit us at the farmers market! There’s more to this pickle story, like an ending, and we love to talk pickles!

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ON RETIRING – ANN HARVEY YONKERS & BERNIE PRINCE IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Yonkers_Prince_Retirement

Today, FRESHFARM Markets Co-Founders and Co-Executive Directors Ann Harvey Yonkers and Bernadine Prince announced they would be retiring later this year. Here are their thoughts on what the past 18 years have meant to them, the evolution of the delicious local food revolution and more.

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Endings and Beginnings

As the time has been approaching for the announcement about stepping down from FRESHFARM Markets, I have kept coming back to four major themes:

  • The founding of FRESHFARM Markets
  • Farmers markets create place and community
  • Why I am grateful
  • Leaving FRESHFARM Markets

The Founding of FRESHFARM Markets
It has been such a privilege to found and lead FRESHFARM Markets for the past 18 years. I am very lucky to have found work that united both my passion and vocation, work that called deeply upon my skills and knowledge as well provided me with a sustaining sense of mission.

I am particularly grateful for the opportunity to create something new, to start fresh, to get it right. From the beginning, I felt a kind of destiny in this work and a sense of confidence that I had a unique role to play. Following the advice of master local farmers Susan and Chip Planck as well as Moie and Jim Crawford, and by utilizing best practices from markets around the county, we created an organization that was farmer focused, that could measure our progress and was committed to education of all stakeholders including farmers, customers and local officials. By adopting percentage fees, counting customers, choosing market gleaning partners, creating a chef-at-market program and going on farm visits we forged a unique path. One that has served us well as we have grown beyond our original vision.

We always thought big including a preference for closing streets to hold markets. This proved to be one of our greatest challenges and nearly our undoing early on, but insisting on converting streets to farmers markets eventually proved to be one of our strongest suits. It said, “Take notice. Farmers markets matter. We are here to stay.”

Farmers Markets Create Place and a Community
Farmers markets have a unique ability to create a place and forge community. Maybe it has to do with their temporary nature, the original pop-ups if you will. The food is beyond beautiful and invites touching, smelling, sampling and conversations. The farmers and producers are there, so customers can simply ask how and where it was grown, and by whom.

I have loved being part of this magic quality of markets and witnessing it happen in so many settings. The Penn Quarter FRESHFARM Market from 3 p.m. 7 p.m. draws office workers out of their cubicles, chefs from their nearby kitchens, commuters on their way home and residents as they return home. Suddenly it is a community. And there are so many conversations happening.

On Sunday mornings, the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market is a destination in and of itself, and a regional pilgrimage. It is our market with a national profile and it is a beloved Sunday morning ritual for many Washingtonians. In the little town of St Michaels, MD, our market is the gathering place for the town residents. A place for conversation and catching up on local gossip while waiting in line to buy croissants or sunflowers or the first peaches.

Why I am Grateful
Most Americans have never met a farmer. They are essential to our everyday survival but are completely under appreciated. I am lucky enough to have worked with more than a hundred of them these past 18 years. My hats off to them and how they grow delicious food under all conditions. I am in awe of what they know about soil and seeds, pruning and cultivars, engines and greenhouses, heating systems and caring for animals, to say nothing of harvesting, storage, transportation and presentation of product at market. We buyers love to see their gorgeous food, but what really is most impressive is behind the scenes. I have loved going to their farms, learning from them, talking with them about their ups and downs and watching their progressive successes. I am deeply grateful to have earned their trust.

I have looked at our producers, an emerging class of food entrepreneurs, with pleasure and anticipation as they are bringing new excitement to our markets by way of their pickles, tacos, soup, charcuterie, wood fired pizza and more. They are building businesses because of the new abundance of local food.

I cherish our customers – the original loyalists from 1997 and all of the newer ones. They are giving their support to local agriculture by showing up at markets, and voting with their forks and their wallets.

I am so grateful to our market partners in Washington, DC and Virginia – the Downtown BID, Mount Vernon Triangle CID, CityCenterDC, Edens at Union Market, Crystal City BID and Ballston BID. Without them we would not be able to build our markets and constituencies, broaden our influence and reach new heights.

We have been so fortunate to attract quality people as FRESHFARM Markets staff and volunteers. I see such creative work, commitment to creating community, hardiness, growth, service and loyalty to our mission. What a pleasure to go to work every day.

Our Board is the absolute best. Weve relied on Board members to guide us in our market policies, organize our financials and raise much needed funds. Now as we transition, they are also transitioning to a governing board. Its been a thrill to see them step up.

I am grateful to Bernie Prince, my co-conspirator and partner of 18 years, for her absolute enthusiasm for the markets, her high standards and for all her hard work to create the FRESHFARM Markets we see today. I know of no one who works harder and cares more. Bravo, Bernie! We did something great!

Leaving FRESHFARM Markets
Leaving FRESHFARM Markets feels very different than starting it. Instead of leaning in, it means stepping back and taking stock. I can clearly see weve come such a long way. We created a successful organization beyond our dreams. FRESHFARM Markets is like a beloved child, one I have cherished, worried over and championed for 18 years and is now ready to fly away and discover new ways to excel. Its time, and thats fine with me. I am a proud Mama.

~ Ann Harvey Yonkers, FRESHFARM Markets co-founder and co-executive director

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Reflections on FRESHFARM Markets

I never thought creating a farmers market would be so challenging (i.e., difficult!) and yet rewarding in so many wonderful ways. When I see the farmer tents at the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market, my spirits soar, just knowing that we did itwe transformed a dusty parking lot and a city street into a bustling producer-only farmers market or as some customers say the church of the market every Sunday in the heart of Washington, DC, our nations capital. Over the past 18 years, I have had the privilege to work with the most talented farmers and producers and smart, young staff to create the best and largest farmers market network in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

FRESHFARM Markets has been a huge part of my life and I am so proud of what weve accomplished. I look forward to every market day! I love talking to the farmers, hearing that Eli Cooks crew at Spring Valley Farm & Orchard crossed two icy mountain ranges to get to market, Heinz Thomet of Next Step Produce has sticky rice and rolled oats, Zach Lester of Tree & Leaf Farm has a new batch of spicy kimchi, Eric Rice of Country Pleasures Farm has my favorite fruits–organic Montmorency cherries and blueberries, Emily Zaas from Black Rock Orchard has pawpaws. I love taking the pulse of the market, seeing so many regular market shoppers, and knowing that nearly every farmer or producer I see is staying in business and looking forward to the next season or the next market s/he can be part of with FRESHFARM Markets.

I will miss taking on the next FRESHFARM Market adventure with co-founder Ann Yonkers, who as been the best, most passionate, local foods partner to work with for more then 18 years. I will miss ringing the market bell, going on farm visits and seeing the bounty of food, flowers and more every FRESHFARM Market day. But I know it is time to goto have another passionate and far-sighted leader take FRESHFARM Markets to the next level.

Most dear to me are two programs I created. First is SNAP/Food Stamp redemption at markets and our Matching Dollars program that started in 2009 to help low income shoppers afford fresh market food. FRESHFARM Markets was the first DC farmers market to accept SNAP and the second to do so in Maryland, plus we give Matching Dollars tokens to shoppers using their USDA Supplemental Nutrition benefits at our farmers markets. This program makes fresh, healthy food accessible and affordable to people in need and thanks to hundreds of individual donors FRESHFARM Markets has given out more than $200,000 in Matching Dollars since2009.

Second is the FoodPrints gardening andnutrition education program now in five DC schools and a model for teaching life skills so young people know how to grow, care for, harvest and prepare fresh healthy food. I have been so lucky to have Jennifer Mampara (FoodPrints Director) to create the curriculum; Barbara Percival (Master Gardener) to build the organic, edible school garden at Watkins and a talented team of FoodPrints teachers to teach young people about healthy eating. I estimate that about 10,000 students are eating raw kale salad as their favorite FoodPrints dish since the program started at Watkins elementary school in 2009. It makes me happy to see families shopping at market with their FoodPrints recipes inhand because the children want to eat more fresh vegetables! Educating our next generation of eaters is so important to me, and Im glad to have inspired this food revolution for young students in the District. Im hoping that FoodPrints will not only be a model for nutrition education but actually BE in every elementary school in DC, and maybe next year in Delaware!

Ive shared FRESHFARM Markets successes with other market managers and farmers by speaking at conferences and workshops throughout the USA. Because of FRESHFARM Markets, I have traveled to Australia and New Zealand where farmers market managers in those countries are using our producer-only model for their farmers markets. I have served two terms as president of the national Farmers Market Coalition and Ive been asked to continue serving as president in 2015.

When I retire later this year, Ill join my husband on our 10-acre Blue Skies Farm in Georgetown, Delaware where I have started to grow lots of flowers, garlic and strawberriesall organic. Come spring, I will be planting fig trees, paw paws and organic vegetables in my new raised garden beds. My husband Ray has bigger plans. So if you hear about the guy who believes he can grow trees inoculated with the truffle spore in Delawarethats Ray with a dream that keeps us both reaching for the stars!

Will I miss FRESHFARM Markets? I will miss every market day, talking to the farmers and their staff, the incredible foods and farm products that are brought to market, and yes, Ill miss ringing the market bell. But I know that it is only a two-hour drive from our Delaware farm to DC. I know I can visit FoodPrints schools and see new school gardens growing. I know I am on Cedarbrook Farms ham list forever. I know where to find the best food at FRESHFARM Markets farmers markets every week in DC.

FRESHFARM Marketshas been a wonderful experience for me and I trust the next leader of FRESHFARM Markets will be just as successful in growing the organizationperhaps finding a permanent market site or a second Dupont Circle market site on weekdays in the new park planned for Connecticut Avenue.

Ill be cheering from Delaware and always ready to return to ring the opening bell.

~~ Bernadine Prince, FRESHFARM Markets co-founder and co-executive director

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WHAT DO YOU WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IN 2015?
Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Markets

As we kick-off the new year, we want to hear from you. We want to know what you want to hear about in 2015. Everyone who shares with us will be entered to win $25 in market dollars to spend at market. Go here to tell us what you want to read about. We look forward to hearing from you!

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FROM THE DESK OF AMANDA PHILLIPS MANHEIM

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver- Maya Angelou

The late, great Maya Angelou makes the case for those of us in the fundraising community who are charged with raising money for our non-profits. You see, we actually like asking our supporters to give. We believe, knowing this full well ourselves, that those of you who give to us just once a year or all year long (whether through a monetary donation or through volunteering for us in some way) have found happiness in each gift. You know that in helping our farmers and producers, or those in our community who have less access to delicious, healthy fresh food, you are providing the gift of health. A healthier livelihood for our farmers, a healthier future for local families, and a healthier neighborhood which also honors and cares about healthy economic growth. We know that there are many reasons to give and many organizations who deserve your gift so we appreciate every donation, no matter how small.

There are many ways you can help us broaden our reach, expand our market scope and extend our programs to those who may need us most of all:

  • Make a monetary donation on ourwebsite: you can designate which program you would like to support or let us choose to use your gift where the need is greatest.
  • Donate to us via your personal Donor Advised Fund. Many financial institutions offer these vehicles, especially Fidelity Charitable and Schwab, which allow a donor to make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax benefit and then recommend grants from that fund over time.
  • Make shopping that much more fulfilling! Various businesses will designate a percentage of their sales to FRESHFARM Markets when you shop. For Amazon.com, please use the Amazon Smile program. Also GoodSearch will donate a percentage of each sale to FRESHFARM Markets when you search the web or shop at over 5,000+ online stores through their GoodShop platform. Each sale helps us!
  • If you already use one of our nonprofit affiliates such as Catalogue for Philanthropy (CFP) or Network For Good (LINK), please consider us in your giving plans. In 2014, we were recognized by CFP as one of the best small charities in the Washington DC region.
  • We offer market tabling sponsorships to local and national businesses at almost all of our farmers markets and can offer substantial visibility to your company. Be a part of our diverse and active market communities, showcase your love of healthy food and consider sponsoring us! For more information, please contact me at amandamanheim@freshfarmmarkets.org. Our markets are the perfect way to reach more like- minded customers and we customize tabling opportunities to meet your needs.
  • When you attend one of our events, you are helping us spread the word about how local food is healthy for everyone, as well as being healthy for our agricultural community. Our varied event programming offers another fun way in which we can get to know you, where you can meet others (chefs, policy makers, nutritionists, winemakers and many others) involved in the fight for farm fresh food. Check our event calendar often to see what delicious and innovative networking opportunities we are creating!
  • Finally, we love our FRESHFARM Markets volunteers! Sign up to volunteer at one of our farmers markets, at our Penn Quarter offices or at one of our events.

We know that healthy food is good for our soul, great for our communities and all of us here at FRESHFARM Markets know the power of both giving and receiving a gift. Using the words of Maya Angelou, we ask you to think about liberating your soul and giving to FRESHFARM Markets this season! In return, we offer you the power of making the difference, a year-long season of healthy, farm-fresh food and the opportunity to have an impact in your immediate neighborhood and across the nation. Together, we can keep our markets running and expand our educational reach. We are so grateful for your support.

Written by Amanda Phillips Manheim, Director of Fundraising and Advancement for FRESHFARM Markets.

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2014 – A YEAR END REVIEW
Year in Review Blog 2

Co-Founders and Co-Executive Directors Ann Harvey Yonkers and Bernadine Prince share their reflections of the year. What another amazing year it has been for FRESHFARM Markets, punctuated with some unpleasant reminders of the havoc Mother Nature and other forces can bring. Here are their reflections.

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As our 2014 farmers market season comes to a close, FRESHFARM Markets has so much to be thankful for, and I attribute that to the partnerships we have nurtured over the past year that have resulted in very successful programs.

Here are my highlights for 2014:

A 10th Anniversary, Two New Markets & CSAs
In 2014, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the H Street NE FRESHFARM Marketknown in the neighborhood as the little market that could and that now has The Washington Post Food Editor Joe Yonan as a regular shopper!

In June, two new FRESHFARM Markets openedat City Center and Mount Vernon Triangle. Both new markets had the partnership support of the Downtown DC BID and the Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District. We launched CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) at our Ballston, Foggy Bottom and Penn Quarter markets that provided over 100 customers with 24 weeks of conveniently packaged fresh market foods. Due to the programs success we are now offering a Winter CSA at our Dupont Circle market for 12 weeks starting January 11!

More Healthy Food for Everyone
In 2014, we provided Matching Dollars and SNAP (Food Stamps) redemption at 10 of our FRESHFARM Markets, giving out more than $50,000 in Matching Dollars. In addition, our DC markets distributed Produce Plus checks to income-eligible residents so they could purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

Produce Plus was funded by the District of Columbia to increase DC residents’ ability to purchase healthy and nutritious foods at farmers markets with the ultimate goal of improving their health. Many other cities across our country are providing funding to meet similar goals but DCs program is the only one that incentivized SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, TANF, and SSI recipients. DC residents responded by using their checks to purchase over $156,200 in fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers markets in every ward of the city! Our FRESHFARM Markets in Wards 2 and 6 attracted many new shoppers every week and gave out $36,370 in Produce Plus checks! We are pleased that the District of Columbia will continue Produce Plus in 2015 and FRESHFARM will once again participate.

Also, thanks to a grant from the Maryland Farmers Market Association, we increased our Matching Dollar tokens to $20 at our Downtown Silver Spring market and have enough funding to continue the match at $20 for the 2015 Winter Market!

FoodPrints Expands
Our FoodPrints program expanded to five schools including Peabody, School Within School, Ludlow-Taylor, Tyler and Watkins Elementary thanks to funding from the Office of the Superintendent of Schools and to donations from each of the schools funded by a portion of their PWP Funds for Increasing Student Satisfaction. FoodPrints reaches nearly 2,000 students with hands-on garden and cooking instruction along with a nutrition curriculum that meets DC and Common Core standards. School Within School won Best School Garden award, and a Food Corps service member is working with all of our schools, especially Ludlow-Taylor. Our FoodPrints program at Watkins was featured on NPR and if you, like me, missed hearing the radio broadcast, you can hear and read about it here.

Thanks to our farmers and producers, our market partners and program sponsors, the teamwork of our staff and board of directors and to all of you reading this today who shop at our farmers markets and volunteer for our programs, 2014 was a very good year! Thanks for your support and best wishes for the holidays!

~Bernadine Prince, FRESHFARM Markets Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director

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One of the many pleasures of sharing a family meal with our daughter and son-in-law and our three grandsons, Ronan age 11, Darcy age 9 and Cyrus age 7, is participating in the ritual of reciting their highs and lows of the day. Its amazing how this little exercise focuses the mind and sharpens the perceptions. So thats why I chose to use this same format for my reflections on 2014.

The lows
A cold, wet winter and spring
Winters record freezing temperatures and the persistent cold and wet spring, while uncomfortable for us, was a disaster for farmers. Trying to grow in a hostile landscape of sodden soil and chilly temperatures delayed planting, and dramatically slowed down production. The temperatures also kept away market customers. It took until September for the markets, the farmers, plants and the crowds to start to grow again and fully recover. This is yet another and the most recent reminder of what the farmers face with Mother Nature as their partner.

Pot Pie Barn fire
This low trumps every other low, maybe every other low of a lifetime. We lost our beloved 100 year old gambrel roof barn and adjacent pole barn to a massive fire on a clear beautiful day in June. The cause of the fire was never discovered but with its total destruction went 23 years of careful reimagining of this massive timber frame post and beam barn as an tool shed and work space, production center and second story apartment. What we also lost was the heart of and the gathering place for the St Michaels market community, a site for FRESHFARM Markets annual fundraisers, dinners, tours, barn parties, and the iconic center of the food movement we have been building in St Michaels since 1998.

Not only was this a family and farm tragedy for me and my husband Charlie Yonkers, as well as farm and market manager Carol Bean, but also for the St Michaels market community. Their response spoke volumes as they flocked to the market with equipment, tools, help, hope and hugs. To top off this heartfelt response, the Wallace Genetic Foundation came forward with an extraordinary grant to fund a new Disaster Relief Fund for FRESHFARM Markets.

The highs
Compass Foundation Grant
Thanks to Amanda Phillips Manheim, our Director of Fundraising and Advancement, and her grant writing prowess, FRESHFARM Markets is now engaged in our second extensive pro bono grant. While the Taproot Foundation provided us with strategic planning expertise last year, this grant will provide us with expert advice and resources in marketing and pr. This grant from the Compass Foundation is valued at about $180,000 and will permit us to review, restructure and rebrand our communications and pr with advice from an expert team. Stay tuned for positive changes in how we communicate with all of you.

Introduction of FFM Feed Series
It has been my long-time dream for FRESHFARM Markets to hold lively and substantive discussions about the state of agriculture in the USA and the world featuring the farmers voice. Our first official foray into this came in the form of our panel: The Chef, The Doctor and the Farmer on September 9. Speaking to a full-house in the lovely sanctuary hall of the church where our office is housed, the panel featured FRESHFARM Markets board members Chef Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen, Zeke Emanuel, oncologist, university professor and Affordable Healthcare Act architect along with Tree and Leaf Farms Zack Lester, a talented and innovative farmer and who is fierce advocate of sustainable agriculture and talented grower. Moderator Corby Kummer of The Atlantic, one of the most widely read food writers in the United States, kept the pace lively. What a launch! What a success to build on.

Celebrating 12 Years of the Farmland Feast
2014 was another rollicking success. Our 12th year of the Farmland Feast. We had the largest number of guests, chefs, and sommeliers in the history of the event. Not to mention the most fun. Not only did we break our fundraising records bringing in almost $350,000 to support our market operations and programs, but this year felt like a tipping point. After all these years, our advocacy for local food and sustainable farming practices has finally achieved wider traction. Thanks to a generous grant from the Farvue Foundation, we were able to invite and lodge over 40 farmers and producers from our markets to attend and meet our supporters. The benefits were clear. Lots of amazing energy as our guests, farmers and producers all mixed and mingled and got more engaged in the struggle to change our broken food system. This is the power of the Delicious Revolution.

~Ann Harvey Yonkers, FRESHFARM Markets Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director

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