Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia (FMNS) is beyond thrilled by the phenomenal success of year 2 of our province-wide Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Project. The project involves FMNS member farmers’ markets and partner social organizations working together to increase food security for low-income Nova Scotians while supporting local producers and farmers. This program allows project participants to use an anonymous alternative currency—or “food bucks”—that can be redeemed at any vendor stall at participating markets.
This year’s program is providing weekly food bucks allotments to well over 200 households across Nova Scotia. The project was first made possible thanks to $63,100 in generous funding provided by the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage (CCH) in the 2018/2019 fiscal year. Thanks to $80,000 in funding from Communities, Culture and Heritage and $20,000 from the non-profit Second Harvest, FMNS has expanded this project from 6 participating farmers’ markets to 13.
“The key to having thriving, successful and strong communities is to have inclusive food security”, says CCH Minister Leo Glavine. “We are pleased to support initiatives like the Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Project, which not only increases food security to vulnerable Nova Scotians, but plays an important role in the optimal growth, health, and well-being of the province.”
This program is made even more important by the economic downturn and increased food insecurity caused by COVID-19. “COVID-19 has drastically affected food security in Nova Scotia, but we’ve seen an incredible amount of ingenuity and adaptability from our farmers’ markets,” says Justin Cantafio, Executive Director of Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia. “With so many of our farmers’ markets working hard to adapt their operations and keep providing food and necessities, our cooperative was a great position to work with our member markets and partner organizations to get healthy local food to those who need it most.”
The New Glasgow Farmers’ Market was able to expand their program and shift it completely online, working with their partner organization to make it even easier for their program participants. “COVID-19 has brought many challenges with it, a rise in food insecurity is one of them,” says Kristi Russell, Manager of the New Glasgow Farmers’ Market. “With all the hardships this year has brought to families, worrying about putting food on the table shouldn’t be one of them. These challenges have underscored the need for the Food Bucks program in our communities.”
The Wolfville Farmers’ Market is in its fourth year of the program. “Getting fresh local food to those in need is more important than ever,” says Jennifer Bolt, Volunteer Manager with the Wolfville Farmers’ Market. “This year the Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Program is helping sustain not only those experiencing food insecurity, but also our local farmers who have been challenged to get produce to markets with COVID restrictions. For the first time, we’ve also been able to make use of our online marketplace to deliver the Food Bucks program, helping us reach more people than in past years.”
Markets taking place this year include the Truro Farmers’ Market, Sydney’s Cape Breton Farmers’ Market, the Mabou Farmers’ Market, Wolfville Farmers’ Market, New Glasgow Farmers’ Market, Halifax’s Brewery Market, Spryfield Farmers’ Market, and Novalea Farmers’ Market, the South Shore’s Lunenburg Farmers’ Market, Bridgewater Farmers’ Market, and Chester Farmers & Artisans Market, the Antigonish Farmers’ Market, and Windsor’s Avon Community Farmers’ Market.
FMNS will continue to explore funding opportunities to support a further expansion of this project next year and into the future. FMNS is working to bring on more farmers’ markets and program participants, turning this pilot project into a long-term, sustainable program providing crucial support to Nova Scotians.
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For more information or to request an interview, contact:
Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia Cooperative
Find us online at www.farmersmarketsnovascotia.ca
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About Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia (FMNS)
Founded in 2004, Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia (FMNS) Cooperative is a non-profit cooperative and the only farmers’ market sector association east of Ontario. With over 35 unique members representing over 1,500 owner-operated businesses across the province, our cooperative is the unified voice of our region’s farmers’ market sector. Our cooperative advances growth and prosperity for our member farmers’ markets and their vendors through training, resources, advocacy, promotion, and community. Together, our organization and our members are building a cooperative and dynamic farmers’ market sector cultivating successful businesses, vibrant local economies, and healthy communities.
Our cooperative’s member farmers’ markets are small business incubators, job creators, and hubs for social and economic activity. They’re the places where producers and vendors sell directly with their target market, where entrepreneurs find a low-overhead venue to create and develop their minimum viable product, where artisans showcase and sell their wares, and where new Canadians ply their trade. Our cooperative’s farmers’ markets are also a driving force in Nova Scotia’s buy-local movement and the trendsetters that launched and continue to bolster the province’s thriving agri-tourism industry.