Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nurturing Local Agriculture & Under-served Communities

Photo from
Working in Washington Heights, an under-served community in New York City, I hear stories about family's trips to the markets and see the smiling faces that accompany those stories. Going to the market is an experience, a positive one. I hear how families get to escape spaces made of concrete. I hear they get to walk along with their kids down the block full of local farmers picking out fresh produce, running into other families from the neighborhood. Sometimes it's the most time they spend outdoors. 

When I heard that the federal government proposed a bill to cut funding to the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), memories of their stories came flashing back to me. The FMNP works with the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program to provide low-income families access to fresh produce and nutrition education. * Local farms participating in this program serve low-income communities in the five boroughs of New York.

Removing the opportunity of one family to purchase produce from the market goes beyond cutting access to fresh local foods at an affordable price. While at the market, families learn about local farming and its connection to reducing our ecological footprint; they learn to cook seasonal fruits and vegetables, the meaning of the word organic, and even purchase their own vegetables to grow.  Families learn and nurture their kids a culture of local agriculture and community. 

Removing FMNP funding is removing quality family time where parents of under-served communities teach their kids healthy living is not only a choice of foods but a lifestyle.

Photo from
To learn more about these programs, how they work, and how to help restore funding to FMNP to please visit the following link:

*The FNMP program also provides seniors the access to same resources.


  1. I was not aware of this government program in NY. Is this state-wide? Would it not be possible to portion a part of what comes in the food stamp for the farmers market? Surely some better food could ease the health care costs a bit?

  2. Hey Niraj, Yes, the way the FNMP work is that people who use foodstamps will buy with foodstamp money at the market. For every $5 they spend they get a coupon for $2 to use towards vegetables or fruits. Because vegetables and fruits at the market are usually a little more expensive this allows the foodstamp holder to shop at the local farmers market instead of shopping for imported fruits and veggies at the supermarket.