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April 17, 2010
Boise's farmers market hopes to reach new families by accepting food stamps Read more: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2010/04/17
It's been a challenge to dispel perceptions that farmers markets are too expensive for financially pressed families, said Painter. "Sometimes that's the reality. Sometimes it's not," she said. The Global Gardens booth sells produce grown by former refugees in a network of plots throughout the Valley. Prices are on par with supermarket prices, Painter said. Unexpectedly bounteous harvests of particular crops can mean big bargains. Painter is working on the "Fresh Fund," a side project that should make the market even more welcoming to food stamp users by doubling their buying power. If the Fresh Fund can raise $5,000 in local donations, the Wholesome Wave Foundation, a national group that works to increase peoples' access to fresh, local food, will match it with $5,000. A person who spends up to $10 in food stamps at the market will receive a matching amount in Fresh Fund coupons. So far, the Fresh Fund has raised $2,000. Donors to the program will be recognized on a public poster that will hang at the garden. Painter said similar programs in other cities have increased the number of customers using food stamps at farmers markets by up to 300 percent. A START IN THE REFUGEE COMMUNITY The Global Gardens members didn't have a choice about being trendsetters when it came to market vendors accepting food stamps. Painter said that in 2008, she and the other gardeners concentrated on building a more diverse customer base. They started taking their leftover produce from the farmers market directly to local apartment complexes where many refugees live. A persistent question from potential customers was whether or not the group accepted food stamps, Painter said. "At that time, we didn't. A lot of refugees won't spend cash on food until their food stamps are used up. We ended up giving away a lot of food," Painter said. The Global Gardens group registered with the USDA, and started accepting food stamps in 2009. The process - without the new EBT machines that will be in place this year - required phone calls, receipts with vendor numbers, and more, and was arduous and time consuming, Painter said. Ibrahim Musa, a former refugee from Somalia who works as a custodian at St. Joseph's School in Boise, has been part of the Global Gardens project for three years. Musa finishes his day as a custodian, then heads for the fields to start his second job as a farmer. He's one of 12 former refugees who have signed up to grow produce on one-acre plots to help support their families and communities. Proceeds from Global Gardens go to two African community associations that support classes, citizenship and GED programs and more, plus ongoing farm operation, including tools, seeds, and transportation. This year, Painter said, proceeds will also support Global Gardens' new "incubator" farm project in Star. Work to produce fresh vegetables and fruit for the Capital City market, as well as the Tuesday evening markets at Edwards Greenhouse, is already under way at Global Gardens plots, including the new 22-acre plot near Star. "This year, with the EBT machine, it will be easier to get healthy vegetables to people," Musa said. LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS BEGINNING TO OPEN BOISE'S CAPITAL CITY PUBLIC MARKET • TODAY Saturdays 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 8th Street Downtown; 345-9287 EAGLE • TODAY Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Heritage Park, corner of State and 2nd streets; 631-3630 NAMPA • APRIL 24 Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 12th Avenue South and 1st Street; 461-4807 MERIDIAN MAY 1 Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (and Thursdays 5-8 p.m. from June through mid-October) Ustick Marketplace II, 3630 N. Eagle Road; 376-2610 KUNA • MAY 8 Saturdays 9 a.m. to noon Sandstone Plaza, Avenue East; 922-5113 CALDWELL • MAY 19 Wednesdays 5 to 8 p.m. Serenity Park, 12th and Dearborn; 454-1853 EDWARDS GREENHOUSE • JUNE 15 Tuesdays, 4 to 8 p.m. 4106 W. Sand Creek St.; 342-7548 Anna Webb: 377-6431 Read more: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2010/04/17/1156058/boises-market-hopes-to-reach-new.html#ixzz0lNgp5jMC