Farmers markets are such a feel-good spot. A bustle of happy people, good smells, beautiful fresh produce, and carefully made crafts of all kinds. We get to catch up with friends about the week that just passed, have a coffee and a treat, and feel good about supporting our local producers and local economy. We should all make a habit of attending and supporting our weekly farmers’ market. Right? For those of us that are lucky enough to feel comfortable there and can afford the products, likely so. For many others, maybe not.
Though all of the above may very well be true, the market model is somewhat inaccessible, and can be a stigmatizing environment for many.
This article is not about our markets needing to change, but about the barriers existing within our food system, even on the local scale. Hayes Farm, a project of NB Community Harvest Gardens, is working to present another model. Through all of our efforts – mainly the 18-week Regenerative Farming Certificate program – we engage citizens in the food system directly through food production, community involvement, and education.
Everyone is welcome on our community farm located in Fredericton, as long as they come to us with respect and an open mind.
Going into 2020, we are amending our food distribution approach to help mitigate this disparity. As part of a non-profit organization, Hayes Farm is able to leverage our public funding to be able to offer a portion of our farm produce on a ‘pay-what-you-can’ basis, without putting pressure on and competing with our already-stressed primary producers (i.e. farmers!). Through local front line agencies, we will be connecting with those people who can’t, or feel that they can’t, access good fresh food, such as what is available through the market or other traditional channels.
The goal is that through these community partners, we will be able to connect with eaters who are struggling to meet their daily nutritional needs and offer them fresh local food, while working together to determine a price that they can afford. Eventually, we hope to meet them on farm to close the circle. In our two years of programming and growing, Hayes Farm has already proven to provide a space of personal growth and positive transformation.
If the sentiment of this approach appeals to you, and you want to engage with our (your!) food system on a grass-roots level, please get in touch with us. We are currently recruiting for our 18-week Regenerative Farming Certificate program, are always looking for volunteers and crowdfund supporters, and will be connecting with front line agencies in the near future.
Claire May is a Fredericton native who has been working with the Hayes Farm project since the summer of 2016. She will be starting her own market garden operation in Gagetown this growing season.