Pop-Up Market Initiative
Farmers markets are a critical part of any healthy community and any thriving farm-to-table movement. They provide a much needed outlet for farmers to reach consumers, and a great way for the community to easily access a variety of fresh, local food — not to mention meet the great people behind the booth! Unsurprisingly, the number of markets in the United States is on the rise; markets nationwide have more than doubled between 2000 and 2010!
Here in Charlottesville, we are lucky enough to have a wide variety of farmers markets at our fingertips. From Saturday mornings to Wednesday afternoons (and a few other times in between), Charlottesvillians are generally able to get their hands on a farm-fresh tomato or peach without too much trouble.
Local Food Hub’s Pop-Up Market Initiative aims to build upon this growing movement and make locally grown fruits and vegetables accessible to everyone in our community — whether they live near a market or not. Our pop-up markets bring affordable, fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, and meat directly to neighborhoods and workplaces. Keep an eye on our blog and Facebook page to see where we’ll “pop-up” next!
Boys & Girls Club Pop-Up Markets
Now entering its third official season, these pop-up markets are a partnership between the Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia and Local Food Hub. An alternative to magazine or candy bar fundraisers, this program provides hand-on learning opportunities for at-risk youth, funding for Boys & Girls Club field trips, and a source of fresh, healthy produce for low-income neighborhoods.
Once a week during the summer, students from the Boys & Girls Club Cherry Avenue Center work with Local Food Hub to develop, staff, and publicize a pop-up farm stand featuring seasonal, local fruits, vegetables, and eggs. As they work, students gain valuable financial, job, nutrition, and people skills, while simultaneously providing their families, neighbors, and community members with access to fresh, affordable, healthy food.
In 2012, markets will take place each Friday in June, July, and August, from 3:00 – 5:30 pm.
Local Food Hub supports this program by delivering high-quality, fresh foods, and by guiding students through the process of market development – from the choice of produce to pricing, marketing, merchandising, and customer service. All funds raised from these markets go towards the Keystone Club’s annual field trip.
Incubator Farm Pop-Up Markets
In 2012, Local Food Hub has built a new partnership with UVA Foundation in order to bring fresh, local, certified organic produce to Fontaine Research Park, and provide market access to a beginning farmers participating in our Incubator Program.
With the average age of farmers in the U.S. at 57, it is imperative that we encourage and support a new generation of food producers to ensure a healthy local food system. Through our pilot Incubator Program at the Maple Hill Educational Farm in Scottsville, beginning farmers gain access to affordable land for a one-year lease, the use of farm equipment and infrastructure, and on-site training and mentorship from established farmers. This year, we are working with Melissa Meece and Mark Weber of Cottage View Farm.
In order to succeed financially, farmers need to pursue multiple sales channels and find ways to connect directly with their customers. Unfortunately, the most economically viable markets in our area are “full” and not accepting new vendors. In partnering with organizations like UVA Foundation, we can help new farmers like Melissa and Mark gain a toehold in the local market, and boost the chances of their overall success.