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Farmers' market lands $28,000 grant

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By Patrick Smith

INDEPENDENCE — The Independence Farmers Market was recently selected as one of only five farmers markets in the state to be awarded a substantial grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The grant, which will provide more than $28,000 in funding over the next two years, will help the market complete three phases that should help increase the community’s accessibility to healthy, locally grown foods in Grayson County.
The market’s primary objective will be to install a two-year funded market manager position.
Volunteer market manager Rick Cavey said the market will likely advertise the manager job description in local papers.
He said the market is looking for someone who has experience with retail and teamwork, will reach out to the market’s customers and other people in the community and will set up workshops, meetings and fundraisers.
“We need someone with a passion for local food,” said Rick Cavey, the current volunteer market manager. “It needs to be someone that understands not only the health benefits but also the financial benefits of the farmers market.”
The market’s other plans include the education and marketing phases, which will follow the hiring of a manager.
The education phase will consist of the workshops. Cavey said that the market has already planned three workshops this winter, one for customers and two for farmers who want to participate in the market next summer. The workshops are intended to instruct customers on the benefits of buying healthy and locally grown foods and teach farmers how to better sustain their crops and grow them in bulk.
The market worked closely with Grayson LandCare and the Town of Independence to secure the grant.
Grayson County Planning and Community Development Director Elaine Holeton worked with the market to develop articles of organization and a board of directors, which were used to formalize the already established organization. The market’s non-profit status enabled them to apply for the grant.
Cavey described the process as a “community effort.”
“Grayson LandCare was a good match for the farmers market because of their commitment to local food, and [they] agreed to serve as an umbrella organization for the farmers market,” said Holeton.
“Without the sponsorship of Grayson LandCare and the commitment of Rick Cavey in applying for the grant, this award would not have been possible for the Independence Farmers Market.”