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Grant to help connect consumers with local products

POSTED October 9, 2012 4:52 p.m.

The East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District was awarded an $85,000 grant through the Farmers Market Promotion Program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a farmers’ market project and a new food logo.

“The goal of this project is to strengthen the food system in Stanislaus County,” said the district’s executive director Andrea Bowling.  “We will develop a farmers’ market in a food desert community.  Many community members do not have access to fresh, clean, and affordable food.  Through this grant we will have an increase of fresh and local produce at direct-to-consumer events.”

The USDA defines a  food desert as a low-income census area where a substantial number of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. In Stanislaus County, 3,381 people were designated as having low access to a supermarket.

Through the federal grant, the East Stanislaus RCD will develop a Stanislaus County Grown brand to promote local agricultural products in the county.

“The brand is of particular importance to us because we want to instill community pride in Stanislaus County,” said Jamie McFarlin, a resource conservation technician for the district.  “We want our community members to engage in the project to help connect consumers with local products.”

The program will reach out to consumers who have less access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.

“We would also like to assist with a certification process so they could be able to sell at certified markets,” added McFarlin.

The Farmers Market Promotion Program offers grants to help improve and expand domestic farmers’ markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities.

"This year's Farmers Market Promotion Program awards are diverse and illustrate the many different ways farmers are directly connecting to communities and consumers," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Meffigan. "From starting up mobile markets to helping new farmers and ranchers, these grants will create new economic opportunities and encourage consumers to eat healthier."

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