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Extended farmers market offers Market Match program
farmers market
By extending the Turlock Certified Farmers Market season to the end of the year and offering programs like Market Match for EBT card users, market organizers hope more kids like Mason Santana will enjoy fresh, locally grown produce (Journal file photo).

The Turlock Certified Farmers Market will be extending its current season through the end of December, and then re-open two months earlier than usual in March of 2024.

Typically, the market season begins in May and lasts through October.

“This extends the season by two months on each end,” said Nick Schuller, market director for TCFM. “It will be open for 10 months out of the year.”

The bonus season will feature a smaller, shorter market, but not by much. Beginning in November, TCFM will be located on just one block of Main Street — likely between Center and Thor streets — and is slated to run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 60 minutes less than its current hours.

The extended season will allow TCFM customers to continue using their Cal-Fresh benefits and make use of TCFM’s Market Match program.

Market Match is funded through the California Department of Food and Agriculture and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

If customers use their Cal-Fresh benefits to purchase tokens at the market’s info booth (at the intersection of Main and Thor), TCFM will match their purchase dollar for dollar, up to $20 per EBT card each market day. Market Match is good for fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms.

Schuller pointed out — and was backed up by information found on — that the average apple purchased in a grocery story was picked about 14 months before it’s sold.

“Over the course of those 14 months, that apple is not getting better,” said Schuller. “The average age of an apple here at the farmers market is three or four days. Maybe less than that.

“Market Match makes the premium quality foods of the market accessible to all Turlockers,” said Schuller. “ Foods like eggs, plums, grapes, peaches, tomatoes, carrots, basil, microgreens, gourmet mushrooms, berries, hummus, fresh bread, beef, sausage, cheese, milk, jerky and lots more are eligible for purchase with Cal-Fresh benefits of Pandemic EBT.”

Cal-Fresh and Market Match will be available during TCFM’s extended season. 

“This is the first year we’ve done Market Match,” said Schuller. “Saturday, we nearly met our goal. The goal is $300 of Market Match each week until the end of the season, and we got $293 this past weekend. That money all goes to the vendors, and when the vendors go to pay their stall fees, instead of them paying me, I’m paying them.”

According to Schuller, a tenth of one percent of all food stamps are spent at farmers markets. The vast majority is spent at grocery stores and convenience stores.

“Market Match is a program designed to incentivize people to come and spend with small farmers doing the direct sales,” Schuller said.

The city’s other weekend market, Market Downtown Turlock, which features made goods as opposed to food and produce, also will extend its season through the end 2023.

Usually open on Sundays, MDT will operate on Saturdays during the extended season, meaning there will be vendors on both sides of Golden State Boulevard during the final two months of the 2023 season. It will be situated on Main Street between First Street and Broadway.