DOAG: CONNECTICUT FARMERS’ MARKETS ARE OPEN FOR THE SEASON



June 19, 2019

CONNECTICUT FARMERS’ MARKETS ARE OPEN FOR THE SEASON

Bureau of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation

 

Farmers’ markets are regular, community-based events that celebrate local food, farm products, and agriculture while supporting local jobs and the local economy.

Many Connecticut farmers’ markets are now open for the season and are offering a wide array of locally produced farm products including fresh Connecticut Grown strawberries, asparagus, salad greens, as well as vegetable and flowering plants.

Farmers’ markets have been present in Connecticut since 1643 when the General Court of Connecticut established a public market at the Old State House in Hartford. This market is believed to be the first farmers’ market in Connecticut.

George Hall Farm of Simsbury, CT will be attending the Old State House Farmers’ Market this year.

“We are returning to the Old State House Farmers’ Market after a 15-year absence,” said Daren Hall of George Hall Farm. “Friday [June 21st] will be our first day, and we will have strawberries and greens.”

Strawberries are the first fruit available in Connecticut and their arrival at farmers’ markets signals the start of summer for many consumers.

Today, there are more than 100 farmers’ markets spread throughout the state, providing Connecticut Grown farm products to thousands of customers from hundreds farm families.

Connecticut consumers enjoy easy access to farm-fresh products at farmers’ markets close to where they work and live. Each purchase is not only supporting Connecticut farmers but many other local businesses and the local economy as a whole.

Go to www.CTgrown.gov/FarmersMarkets for a list of farmers’ markets in Connecticut.

Another driving force behind Connecticut farmers’ markets are the supplemental food programs they offer.

More than 80% of Connecticut farmers’ markets participate in the two Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP)s administered by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg)—the Connecticut Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) FMNP and the Connecticut Senior (S) FMNP.

Both programs provide low-income individuals with checks for the purchase of fresh Connecticut Grown produce and cut herbs directly from farmers at FMNP authorized farmers’ markets from July 1 to October 31. Eligible seniors can also use their SFMNP checks to purchase Connecticut Grown honey at FMNP authorized farmers’ markets as well.

“The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is a vital component for access to healthy Connecticut Grown food for low-income families,” said DoAg Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “The program has the additional benefit of increasing farmers access to consumers and supporting their businesses.”

These nutrition programs were introduced to Connecticut farmers’ markets in the late 1980s when Connecticut was chosen as one of 10 pilot states to offer the FMNP. The first year was a success, and the program has continued to grow in size and in popularity since.

DoAg collaborates with the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), local WIC offices, and more than 200 senior coordinating agencies for implementation of the two FMNPs.

The FMNPs benefit eligible seniors; pregnant women; breastfeeding women; non-breastfeeding post-partum women; infants ages 9 to 11 months old; and children 1 to 5 years old by providing a supplemental source of funding to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

The programs also promote agricultural diversification by stimulating the demand for fresh Connecticut Grown fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets.

Through a partnership with DPH, WIC FMNP funds are provided to eligible individuals in the form of checkbooks. Each eligible recipient receives a book of five $3 checks, per market season. Each eligible individual in a family can receive a booklet.

WIC FMNP is jointly funded by the State of Connecticut and the United States Department of Agriculture – Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS)’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for WIC.

The SFMNP serves seniors who are at least 60 years of age with an annual income that does not exceed 185% of the poverty guidelines. DoAg has elected to serve disabled individuals under the age of 60 who live in housing where congregate nutrition services are offered as well. Connecticut SFMNP is funded through the USDA-FNS and the State of Connecticut.

Each eligible senior receives six $3 checks, per market season, which can also be redeemed at authorized Connecticut farmers’ markets. The checks are issued to elderly housing facilities, municipal social services, and elderly service nonprofits who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with DoAg. 

Checks are not distributed to individuals by DoAg. To find the most current list of SFMNP check distribution sites please go to www.CTgrown.gov/FMNP.

Farmers at authorized farmers’ market are certified to accept FMNP checks for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables only. To be eligible to accept FMNP checks, a Connecticut farmer must grow the majority of products the farm offers for sale at an authorized farmers’ market. An individual engaged in the buying and reselling of farm products, who grows less than 50% of the items sold by the farm/business at an authorized farmers’ market, is not eligible for FMNP certification.

For a list of farmers’ markets that accept FMNP checks go to www.CTgrown.gov/FMNP.