Farmers markets are good for our communities. They not only bring fresh, nutritious, and sustainably-grown food to our tables at reasonable prices, but they also support local farmers and the local economy. From May to late November, the region’s 80+ farmers markets and farm stands are the place to shop.
However, farmers and sustainable food advocates recognize that the real potential of these markets remains untapped. Many local residents are not familiar with the markets or view them as unaffordable for low-income households.
Just Harvest has been working with local officials, farmers, food advocates, and neighborhood groups to expand the reach of farmers markets into low-income neighborhoods.
About Fresh Access
Our Fresh Access program makes it possible for food stamp shoppers to purchase fresh produce at participating farmers markets.
Just Harvest along with Pittsburgh Citiparks and participating local farmers launched Fresh Access in May 2013 at the East Liberty and North Side farmers markets. The program expanded that August to four other Pittsburgh Citiparks market locations in Beechview, Bloomfield, Carrick, and the South Side.
As of the 2014 market season, Fresh Access operated at a seventh Pittsburgh Citiparks market (in Squirrel Hill) as well as at two other neighborhood markets through partnerships with the Borough of Swissvale and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership – for a total of 9 participating farmers markets. We also helped establish EBT programs at the Lawrenceville Farmers Market and the Bloomfield Development Corporation’s Saturday Market (see all 11 market locations and hours in the chart in the right sidebar).
In 2014, we also began working with the Citparks markets in Carrick and Beechview to make them more welcoming shopping destinations for the growing immigrant populations in those communities. We’ve translated our signage and outreach materials into Spanish and Nepali and are working with farmers to make culturally specific produce available to shoppers.
Looking ahead, we are also planning to implement an incentive program which would make the markets’ products more affordable for low-income shoppers.
By engaging Pittsburgh’s immigrant communities and by breaking down barriers to affordability we are helping to make local farmers markets more inclusive, vibrant, and sustainable.