Wadena Local Foods
This project focused on supporting and enhancing the local foods movement in Wadena, Minnesota. By employing a Market Coordinator and a Market Manager and through providing funding for mileage and printed material, the Wadena Area Growers Association (WAGA) better established itself as a viable, organized group of growers who are able to support their local Farms-to-School programs, maintain a thriving Farmers Market, grow economically and reach out to the members of their community through SNAP benefits acceptance and healthful nutrition information.
WAGA grew this year. Beginning the year with 15 vendors, an additional 11 vendors joined the market. There was also a perceived increase in customers as compared to last year. Donna Anderson, UM Extension Community Nutrition Educator of Wadena County performed a total of three cooking demonstrations at the market this season.
- SNAP Benefits / EBT Acceptance at the market
The Market Manger secured a grant that enabled the market to pay for the contract and all of the fees associated with utilizing the EBT machine during the 2012 season at the market's Friday location. A trained individual was always present at the market, keeping the SNAP Benefits / EBT acceptance consistently available throughout the season.
This season has been and continues to be a great year for WAGA growers who sell directly to institutions. The number of members who sell directly to institutions has increased by two and the amount of produce sold to institutions has also increased. These institutions include the schools of Wadena, Sebeka and Verndale, area restaurants and specialty grocery stores. The Meals on Wheels pilot program was a success and it is hopeful that the program will expand in 2013 so that an increased number of WAGA members can participate and support the Meals on Wheels program.
- The Farmers Market as a Social and Educational place
Three cooking demonstrations were conducted during the 2012 market season. All of the regionally available produce was donated by WAGA vendors, except for the apples which were donated by Mel Wiens of the Staples Farmers Market Association. This event was advertised through fliers, handbills, the market's facebook page, through the market's listserv and on the local radio. Approximately 100 people attended this event, asking questions, taking free recipes and being inspired by the ease and deliciousness of the recipes.
- Market Promotion
WAGA continues to be advertised by way of fliers, handbills, press releases, public service announcements, social media, e-mail and word of mouth. WAGA has enjoyed much success this year in using facebook.
The project facilitated growth in and gave organizational support to WAGA, their individual growers and their farmer's market, in becoming a community provider of local food, local food education, and regional food security. It also economically empowered WAGA growers in expanding their markets to include low-income individuals and local institutions.
$5650 from the CRSDP
Wadena Area Growers Association
- $360.00 (membership fees)
- $3,000 (300 in-kind hours)