The Chicago Tribune has a story out today about how a few new farmers markets in low-income and ethnic communities are struggling. “They’ve learned that offering fresh produce and educating people about the environmental advantages of locally grown food is not necessarily enough to sustain a farmers market,” reporter Kristen Mack wrote.
Organizers of these markets, set up in working-class neighborhoods and “food deserts” where healthy food is nearly impossible to find, are trying out lots of tricks to get some staying power. Some of them are accepting food stamps, some are opening on Sunday rather than Saturday to catch the church crowd. Vendors have learned that exotic produce doesn’t move like the fruits and vegetables people already know how to cook. Hopefully they’ll pick up a few more tricks so they can stay in business and keep fresh, local foods available in communities that wouldn’t have access to them otherwise.