August 4th through August 10th, 2013 is Virginia Farmers Market Week. As we approach the mid-season for farmers markets across the state of Virginia, Patrick Warner of Carytown Market is taking steps to promote these venues in a big way.
It has been estimated that only 5% of the Richmond area residents shop regularly at a farmers market. “Many markets I have visited across the Richmond region are doing well, yet they still need assistance to inform the community about the uniqueness and value of these venues. Not only do markets provide a place to buy healthy, local food in a fun social setting, but they provide an important outlet for local farmers to connect directly with customers,” explains Patrick.
According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website, “Farmers’ market managers are dedicated to strengthening farmers’ markets in Virginia by fostering appreciation for agriculture, creating a vibrant community center and allowing independently owned family businesses to thrive. Market managers wear several hats including educators, financial managers, human resource specialists, marketing coordinators and event organizers. At the core of each market manager is a shared passion to serve farmers, consumers and their community.”
Patrick has collaborated with the nonprofit FeedRVA to bring an increased awareness to farmers markets everywhere and to raise money for nonprofits like FeedRVA. FeedRVA is a nonprofit organization formed to facilitate the education of communities in the Richmond region on the importance of food systems, healthy/lifelong nutritional habits, and accessibility to quality food.
Patrick will bike across the Commonwealth of Virginia during farmers market week August 4-10, and promote the ride at seven markets along the way. “My goal is to raise money through our website. People can pledge per mile or make a flat donation; my goal is to raise $10,000 this year,” Patrick says.
Monies raised from the ride will be used to support nonprofits that support dollar matching programs for SNAP, which is a food assistance program for designated income levels. Matching dollar programs for SNAP participants benefit farmers markets in two ways.
- First, it allows an individual to have access to local and healthy food they would otherwise be unable to purchase.
- Secondly, it puts more money into local farmers pockets.
This program not only supports the hardworking farmer, but hopes to turn the tide of unhealthy eating choices which leads to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other ailments.
“I am riding my bike 500 miles across the state because I believe in this program. If you share these goals, please partner with me. Any donation – no matter how large or small – will help our cause. Your name, which will appear on our list of contributors, will encourage others to offer their support,” encourages Patrick.