2018 Nourish Update
In March, the Georgia Farmers Market Association hosted its 2nd annual Nourish Training to kick off the 2018 season. We had the chance to spend the day with representatives from more than 30 farmers markets across the state of Georgia!
As part of the outreach and engagement arm of GFMA, Nourish is designed to bring together market leaders to take part in meaningful conversation about the makeup of their markets' customer base. Market leaders identify ways to make their markets more diverse and inclusive, with a focus on engaging low-income shoppers. Participating markets are then asked to carry out a 12-week outreach plan by connecting with key community organizations and stakeholders each week to advertise the market and market events. Leaders had the chance to collaborate and brainstorm civic organizations and local government, agricultural and food agencies, local businesses, and other non-profit and/or faith based organizations that would be good avenues to conduct outreach activities. These were organizations such as local mayoral offices, the USDA, exercise centers, and local churches. Identifying such organizations will open up avenues for markets to make new connections and relationships to continue to expand their markets and increase the inclusion of diverse populations.
One way in which we encourage markets to conduct outreach is through food demonstrations. In the farmers market space, one thing that we have found to be an incredible selling point is the quality of the food. In our member markets, we have found there to be no better way to communicate this than to engage shoppers in hands-on, experiential learning. Markets have historically achieved this through food samples in the hopes of getting shoppers to taste the difference in quality. This aspect of the outreach program is designed to engage and inform not just the consumer, but the market manager themselves. It takes the effectiveness of offering samples and transforms it into an interactive, on-site cooking experience where shoppers can learn how to create meals using market produce. Nourish offers market outreach coordinators an opportunity to have an in-depth learning experience on how to create engaging food demonstrations at their markets. The course walks participants through methods of preparing food that are best suited for farmers markets and emphasizes meal preparation that is seasonal and local.
This year, the GFMA team will be traveling to all 28 participating markets to conduct market visits. These visits will take place on the day each market is conducting their food demonstration. Joining the team this summer are four college students, who will have the chance to experience the impact these demonstrations have on the market and community members. Along with the distribution of surveys, our new team members will be there to assist in answering questions about the Nourish program and interacting with community members. It is important to us at GFMA that we have the opportunity to engage with the communities we serve as much as we can!
Stay tuned for updates throughout the season on all of the great things that these market leaders are doing to Nourish their communities!