As 2013 comes to close, we wanted to share reflections from our Co-Founders and Co-Executive Directors Ann Yonkers and Bernadine Prince on the high’s of the year through their eyes. You’ll find their thoughts are as diverse as the farmers markets we operate and the educational programs we run. They capture the exciting opportunities presenting themselves to an evolving and growing organization at the heart of the region’s local food movement.
Looking back over 2013 and the 16th year of FRESHFARM Markets, I am struck by three things: our organizational adaptation, our embrace of our core activity of holding farmers markets and our continued work toward the development of a robust local food economy in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Four developments are especially positive indicators of this dynamic evolution:
- The creation of a new market and programs structure
- The innovative celebration of the 15th anniversary of our St. Michaels farmers market
- The passing of the torch at the Farmland Feast
- Continued recognition of our achievements and the initiation of a strategic planning process
The organizational changes came in the form of turning over day-to-day responsibility for the logistical and operational aspects of our farmers markets to Reg Godin and Juliet Glass, who were named Markets and Program Directors. In turn, Reg and Juliet assembled a dynamic team of six new market managers, all of who lend an energy, creativity and rigor to the 11 farmers markets and a mounting array of office tasks.
Thanks to Carol Bean, the veteran market manager of our St. Michaels farmers market, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of this small town farmers market in innovative ways. Prior to our April opening, market farmers and loyal customers gathered for our first ever fish fry fundraiser at Pot Pie Farm. At year’s end, Carol spearheaded a campaign to fund a food preservation program at the St. Michaels food pantry. The star of the campaign was her colorful, hand crafted 3-foot tall plywood carrots that hung on light poles throughout town. These carrots were purchased by supporters to raise funds for the preservation workshop.
2013 also marked the passing of the torch at our annual fundraiser, the Farmland Feast. Cathal Armstrong, our coordinating chef for the past six years, stepped down and was succeeded by local food pioneer Brian McBride of RW Restaurant Group. Cathal ‘s remarks at the Feast touched everyone as he generously welcomed his successors, Chef McBride and his partner, RW Restaurant Group founder Robert Wiedmaier.
Finally, FRESHFARM Markets continues to attract accolades and recognition. Of particular note is our fourth inclusion in the Catalogue of Philanthropy, a guide to the top nonprofits in our region. We also launched our strategic planning process. Assisted by a major grant from the Taproot Foundation valued at $70,000, this grant brings us a professional pro bono team of experts who will augment our strategic planning process.
In short, it was a very good year.
~ Ann Yonkers, FRESHFARM Markets Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director
2013 was the first full year of FRESHFARM Markets’ offices at the First Congregational Church of Christ in Penn Quarter. In this time, we have deepened our roots in the Penn Quarter community by partnering with our next door neighbor, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, at our Penn Quarter FRESHFARM Market. We have also benefited from the congregation who generously supported our Thanksgiving Food Drive in support of Thrive DC, our Penn Quarter market gleaning partner.
Our FoodPrints program, edible schoolyard gardens integrated into a school nutrition curriculum, expanded to three DC schools (Watkins Elementary School, Peabody Elementary School and School Within School). The program was also recognized by the Mayor’s Sustainable DC Plan as “a model to provide targeted educational programs…[that]will raise awareness about nutrition and health issues, educating residents to make better choices.” In October 2013, the Watkins school garden was named “Best School Garden” by the DC Office of the Superintendent of Schools. Watkins fifth grader, Louise Banks, proudly read her winning essay for the school garden, saying “The garden is teaching us new things constantly.”
Our SNAP (Food Stamps) and Matching Dollars program that helps low-income families and seniors afford to purchase more healthy food at our markets expanded to our Ballston, Virginia farmers market. This year, we have given out over $48,000 in Matching Dollars to qualified low income shoppers at eight of the eleven FRESHFARM Markets. Support for the Matching Dollars program is from individual donations.
Our FRESHFARM Markets farmers markets and related programs continue to enhance communities throughout the DC metro area and are a continuing source of pride for all of our FRESHFARM Markets’ staff, farmers and producers.
As we celebrate our accomplishments in 2013, I want to thank all of our community partners, hundreds of thousand market shoppers, over a hundred chefs and home cooks, 120+ farmers and producers, corporate sponsors, foundations, our FRESHFARM Markets’ Board of Directors and our talented and dedicated staff for an outstanding year. We look forward to seeing many of you at our year ’round markets this winter at Dupont Circle and Silver Spring. Happy holidays!
~ Bernadine Prince, FRESHFARM Markets Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director