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TNP gets cash to help market markets

WARREN — Farmers and farmers market managers in Trumbull and Mahoning counties can partner with Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership to market their markets and produce.

TNP received about $200,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist farmers and markets with marketing, in hopes of increasing customers.

“TNP will manage $197,452 over a three-year period to provide support and assistance to farmers markets in the Mahoning Valley, building capacity and long-term sustainability through the creation of the Mahoning Valley Farmers Market Network. The Mahoning Valley Farmers Market Network will serve as a collaborative entity of both farmers market managers and vendors and will promote best practices in marketing and food safety in support of the overall farmers market system in the Mahoning Valley. Through this project, markets will be able to increase their capacity and realize their power to promote this critical piece of the local food system in the Mahoning Valley, where far too many residents lack sufficient access to fresh produce in their community,” a news release from TNP states.

Anyone growing fresh food, or providing a space for growing fresh food can participate, said Cassandra Clevenger, TNP community resource coordinator. Food cooperatives also can participate.

“Many folks in the Mahoning Valley are still unaware that there is a plethora of fresh and local foods being sold in their communities by way of farmers markets. Through this support for farmers and markets to accept more forms of non-cash payment and emphasize promotion, TNP seeks to collaborate within the local food system to make sure our local farmers markets are successful and sustainable,” Clevenger said.

During the life of the program, TNP will work with the OSU Extension Office to update directories of farmers and conduct outreach so farmers, producers and shoppers know what opportunities are available.

“We want to create a collective impact that builds sustainability for the farmers and farmers markets in the community,” Clevenger said. “Most of us have seen a decline in sales and attendance, but if we come together and figure out a way to market it, and to share the different skills and knowledge of the individual markets, we can learn from one another and reach the customers. We know there are quite a few markets and there are hundreds of thousands of people between the two counties. There are enough customers to go around, we just need to ensure we reach them.”

Marketing can be quite expensive, but individuals or organizations that believe they may qualify and could use some help can feel free to reach out to Clevenger at their earliest convenience.

“Let’s talk now,” Clevenger said.

Contact Cassandra Clevenger, GROW program director, at 330-774-8896 or Cassandra@tnpwarren.org.

TNP, through its GROW and Warren Farmers Market programs, has worked since its 2010 inception on mitigating the impact of food deserts in Warren and Trumbull County through its GROW, Warren Farmers Market, and other programs. The organization released the Warren Community Food Security Strategic Plan in 2017, which identified impediments to healthy food access and emphasized the need to take a multi-faceted approach to working within the food system including supporting urban agriculture, farmers markets, and partnering with existing retail nodes like corner stores to increase fresh food offerings.

The plan is available on tnpwarren.org.

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