The New Brunswick Community Farmers Market (NBCFM) has been selected to receive a 2018 Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), designed to increase sales of agricultural products by local farmers around the country.
The market is a collaboration between Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Cooperative Extension, Johnson & Johnson, and the City of New Brunswick, operating since 2009 with a mission to increase the availability and affordability of fresh fruits and vegetables in the greater New Brunswick area. This is the first time the Farmers Market Promotion Program funds have been awarded to Rutgers University.
The NBCFM will use the $250,000 over three years to establish stronger partnerships with local houses of worship, schools, and community organizations through a “Market Ambassador” program. These Ambassadors will work closely with community stakeholders to ensure that the market meets the needs of the community by offering desired produce varieties at affordable prices.
“This USDA support will help us better understand which local foods our customers want to buy at the market, and will help our customers get to know their local farmers,” said Lauren Errickson, a senior program coordinator with Rutgers Cooperative Extension and the lead on this project.
Funds will also support widespread promotion of the NBCFM to ensure community members throughout the City are aware of the market and its programs, such as offering “Market Bucks” to double the dollar value of food assistance benefits spent at the market. Free nutrition education, health screenings, and children’s activities are also regularly offered.
“Our New Brunswick Community Farmers Market has been an integral part of our community’s efforts to bring fresh, nutritious and affordable food to our residents for a decade, and important component of our City’s commitment to health and wellness,” said City of New Brunswick mayor Jim Cahill. “The market’s structure has been successful in spreading health and nutrition resources throughout our neighborhoods and this grant will serve to help reach even more residents.”
Through collaborative promotional efforts, the NBCFM anticipates a significant increase in customers, which will translate into increased sales of fresh produce by local farmers at the market; a win-win for New Brunswick residents and for New Jersey farmers.
The Rutgers project team–Lauren Errickson, Cara Cuite, William Hallman and Jennifer Shukaitis–looks forward to expanding their network of New Brunswick partners. Community groups interested in collaborating with the NBCFM should contact senior program coordinator Lauren Errickson: firstname.lastname@example.org or (848) 932-3501.