The Romanesque Revival market house, pictured above, was built in 1889. Today, Central Market is home to many families that have been coming to the market for generations. Photo courtesy Lancaster Central Market.
What better time than National Farmers Market Week to explore the history of farmers markets in the United States? Farmers markets are a critical ingredient to our nation’s food system, and date back to 1730 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the United States.
“Meet me at the Market” has for decades been a phrase commonly heard by Lancaster citizens. In 1730, when city planners designed the city they designated a 120 square foot lot in the center of town as a public market place giving birth to the Lancaster Central Market. Over the years the size of the market and the number of vendors has changed, but there’s evidence that the farmers market may have had 400 vendors at one point in time. Read more »
Farm to school programs are mutually beneficial – kids get fresh fruits and vegetables and farmers build a new customer base.
“Our farm to school program helps our district offer more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis,” said Julie Hamilton, school food service director of operations/training for Lamar County Schools in Purvis, Miss. “Being exposed to more choices, the young students will learn to like them and make healthier food choices over their lifetimes.”
Offering more fruits and vegetables to students is part of the new requirements recently passed by Congress to improve nutrition in the nation’s schools. Utilizing a farm to school approach – where locally sourced products are featured in the school cafeteria – is an effective way to make it easier to meet these new standards and help the students at the same time. Read more »
Ensuring disadvantaged children have enough to eat during the summer is a top priority for USDA. Historically Black Colleges and Universities can play a critical role in helping us achieve this goal.
Although about 21 million children nationwide receive free and reduced-priced meals through our National School Lunch Program, only about 3.5 million meals are served through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) on a typical day. Closing this gap and ensuring that disadvantaged children do not go hungry during the summer months is a goal that USDA can only achieve through work with our partners.
One of the ways we’re strengthening partnerships is through our StrikeForce Initiative which helps us target state partners to work with across the country including universities and colleges. A great example of this initiative at work is the Alabama Department of Education teaming up with Tuskegee University, a Historically Black University in Alabama, which now sponsors four community-based summer feeding sites in Macon County where disadvantaged kids can get a free and nutritious summer meal. Read more »
With each swing of the ax and cut of the chainsaw, David Pi was clearing the way for his dream of one day having what he calls a “ranching place.” In 2009, he bought 39 heavily wooded acres about an hour east of Houston that he envisioned opening up into pastures for the cattle he dreamed of owning one day.
“I always loved the outdoors and livestock,” says Pi, who lives in Houston and is a project manager for an oil and gas company.
During this time, his quest for knowledge about growing forages and raising cattle took him to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo’s Ranching and Wildlife Expo. It was there that he came across the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) booth, where Pi found the missing piece to transitioning his land to a sustainable operation. NRCS employees staffing the booth urged him to come to the nearest field office to take advantage of their expertise. Read more »
Fresh, local Louisiana produce, like this will soon be available at the new farmers market in Harrisonburg, thanks to a Community Facilities Grant from USDA. Photo by Karen Lawson, USDA.
The Village of Harrisonburg, Louisiana, the 750-person seat of Catahoula Parish, will soon provide a centralized location for farmers to sell their fresh, healthy produce to its citizens and others in the surrounding area. The Village received funding through USDA’s Community Facility grant program in order to provide a location for a farmer’s market in their town.
This farmers market project will provide an essential public service to a persistently poverty-afflicted area with an unemployment rate of 54.9 percent and a median household income of under $22,000, which is below the poverty level. Catahoula Parish is a special emphasis parish as well as a 2008 presidentially declared disaster parish. Read more »
My mom raised five kids, taught high school chemistry for 15 years and then retired back to the family farm in 1986. Her new life on the farm depended on the Salisbury, MD farmers market where she sold daylilies. The farmers market, just one of 8,000 or more markets listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, gave her the opportunity she needed to start her own business.
Each Saturday she loaded up her station wagon with plants and drove into town, displaying the lilies by color. When she wanted to expand her plant offerings, my brother built her a small greenhouse. She became known as the farmers market’s Flower Lady. Read more »