As we take time this week to honor America’s veterans, we are also thinking about how we can improve the health and welfare of military communities across the country. That’s why we are so proud to release the first-ever Guide for Farmers Markets on Military Installations. By assisting military installations in establishing farmers markets, the guide will help increase access to fresh, local food for soldiers on military installations. On-base farmers markets also connect members of the military with their surrounding communities and offer family-friendly gathering places where children can learn where their food comes from.
In a truly collaborative effort, my agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), created this detailed manual with the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Healthy Base Initiative (HBI), and in partnership with Wholesome Wave. It explains how commanders can establish and successfully operate farmers markets on military installations.
The guide is filled with effective strategies to bring the benefits of farmers markets to service members and their families stationed at installations across the country. It also highlights success stories, showcasing existing farmers markets on military installations in Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Meade, MD; Fort Belvoir, VA; Camp Lejuene, NC; and Quantico, VA.
We know that farmers markets play an important role in communities and in American agriculture. Today, more than 8,400 farmers markets are at the heart of towns and cities throughout the nation. Farmers markets bring people together, putting customers face-to-face with the farmers and ranchers who produce fresh, local foods, while also creating jobs and marketing opportunities for these producers.
That’s why supporting farmers markets is a key part of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s commitment to strengthening local food systems, which he identified as one of four pillars of the Department’s efforts to revitalize rural economies. The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative coordinates the department’s policy, resources and outreach efforts related to local and regional food systems. At AMS, we have a long history of supporting local and regional food systems, such as farmers markets, through grants, research, technical assistance and market information.
We’re honored to have worked with the DoD and Wholesome Wave on this new guide, and we look forward to helping service members, their families and their communities enjoy the benefits of farmers markets.