As the market has started to open up again, many of you have asked, “What can I do to support the market?” Mill City Farmers Market’s Executive Director Martha Archer shares updates on the impact of our Charitable Fund and how you can support our work in this letter to the market community.
Last Saturday as the sun came up over the market, vendors checked in with each other with care while they hustled to set up their booths. Despite the fact that it was 120 degrees warmer than our outdoor(!) February market, customers streamed in to taste the season’s first local snap peas and strawberries.
At the end of the long hot day, Alvin, our peony vendor who sold out by 10am, stayed around to help Gee Yang pack up her tent and weights. In this otherwise ordinary moment, I was overwhelmed with gratitude witnessing the strength and resilience of our community. At its foundation, our local food system is made up of people who are working together to build a better, more sustainable future.
While the past year was challenging, it was also inspiring. We experienced collaboration like never before. Vendors, volunteers, staff, shoppers, and neighbors alike took risks and made sacrifices to support small businesses and keep our local food economy strong.
Vendor Karen Clark of Amador Hill Farm at WEI with boxes of pre-order vegetables at 2020 markets.
Hours after shutdown, we jumped into action as an essential business, launching the first pre-order market in the state, training and building online stores for farmers with technological and language barriers, and sharing our learnings with markets across the country. We received an outpouring of community support for our Farmer Relief Fund and for Greens for Good, which enabled us to buy nearly 10,000 pounds of produce from 13 local farms to donate to South Minneapolis residents in a time of need.
We are newly inspired in our commitment to the health of our community by supporting local farmers and makers, ensuring access to healthy food, and educating ourselves and others about growing this resilient, just, local food system.
As the market has started to open up again, many of you have asked, “What can I do to support the market?”
This year, your support will help us to:
Operate a safe and healthy marketplace as we emerge from COVID-19
- Ensure the viability of a supportive marketplace for more than 100 small local farms and businesses who employ over 625 individuals and who depend on us as their primary storefront.
- Provide vendors with guidance on marketing, regulations and operations.
Support farmers and food makers through the Next Stage Grant program
- Lead a committee review of a record number of applications totaling over $113,000 from local farmers and food makers seeking support for hardship or growing toward the “next stage” of their businesses.
- Fund and support 15 projects with grants totaling $73,415 ranging from deer fences to protect hard-earned harvests, to irrigation systems for leased farmland, to projects that increase efficiencies, enabling farms scale-up.
Ensure access to healthy, sustainably-produced local food
- Increase awareness of our Market Bucks program, which stretches the buying power of shoppers using EBT cards by matching purchases dollar-per-dollar up to $10 at the market.
- Provide 60 families in Cedar Riverside with free, weekly market produce through Greens for Good.
Delivering produce purchased from our farmers for community members experiencing food insecurity as part of our Greens For Good food donation program.
Your donation to the Mill City Farmers Market Charitable Fund as a donor and Friend of the Market is tax-deductible. You can opt-in to receive exclusive communications and perks designed for devoted fans and supporters when you make your donation!
Thank you again for all of the ways you are committed to supporting a thriving local food community. It’s truly a team effort, and everything you do – from shopping at the market, to making a donation, to simply spreading the word about your favorite farmer or maker with a friend – has a reverberating impact.
I hope to see you soon at the market!
Martha Archer, MCFM Executive Director
P.S. Becoming a monthly donor is the most sustainable way to support our work. Monthly donations provide us the stability to set and achieve ambitious, short-term and long-term goals. Thank you for your support!