“Fresh Bucks” starts quickly at the farmers market
All the vendors I talked to were totally excited about it. . . . I can’t say enough good about it.
— Market vendor Sue Olinger
Thanks to a new local program that encourages children to make healthy food choices, the Warrenton Farmers Market got a $3,324 boost Saturday.
During the last week of May, thousands of Fauquier and Rappahannock public school students received “Fresh Bucks” to shop for local foods throughout the season.
Those students and other children on June 3 used thousands of dollars’ worth of Fresh Bucks vouchers to buy products at the market, said Hume resident Susanne Brose, founder of Generation Fresh Foundation, which launched the program.
A PATH Foundation “Make it Happen!” grant will be used to reimburse participating market vendors.
As of mid-May, PATH had allocated $5,000 for the program. Depending on the program’s success, that subsidy could reach $25,000, according to Ms. Brose.
“It was a great day,” she said of the first Saturday “Kids Day at the Warrenton Farmers Market” event, which included live music and hands-on activities.
Market vendor Sue Olinger, owner of Sue’s Pies, agreed.
“All the vendors I talked to were totally excited about it,” Mrs. Olinger said of the Fresh Bucks event.
The program helped children learn about the origin of fresh produce and raised the 41-year-old market’s profile, she said.
“I can’t say enough good about it,” said Mrs. Olinger, who also generally praised town government’s support of the farmers market.
Through the Fresh Bucks program, community groups seek to encourage children to eat healthy, fresh foods and to make connections with local growers at the farmers market on Saturdays in Old Town and Wednesdays at the WARF.
It also enables children to make their own shopping decisions.
Partnering groups on the first Saturday of each month will conduct theme-based activities at the market, Ms. Brose said.
Last Saturday’s events featured pollination. Farming and agriculture will be the focus of the July 1 activities.
Partnering groups will conduct weekly visits to the Wednesday farmers market.
Through more than a dozen organizations, almost 50,000 Fresh Bucks have been distributed, according to Ms. Brose.
Besides PATH, Ms. Brose’s foundation and the farmers market, “Fresh Bucks” program collaborators include FRESH (Fauquier Reaches for Excellence in School Health), Commit to Be Fit at Rappahannock schools, the Boys & Girls Club of Fauquier, Fauquier Community Childcare, FISH and the Fauquier County Library.
Should Fresh Bucks use exceed the $25,000 PATH grant cap, “then it’s up to us, if we need to do some more fundraising, to go and reach out and raise more funds,” Ms. Brose said.
Ongoing financial support of the program would be funded through private donations, foundations and perhaps businesses, Ms. Brose said.
“We would put together a community effort to do that,” she said.
The response to the Fresh Bucks program at Saturday’s farmers market didn’t surprise her “because of our experience with outreach to children in schools” and elsewhere, Ms. Brose said.
During the last week of May, for example, the “FRESH team” and Ms. Brose conducted a healthy food program at Greenville Elementary near New Baltimore.
The session, which included discussion about the farmers market and preparation of a green salad, proved popular with the students, Ms. Brose said.
“They devoured” the salad, which contained fresh ingredients from the farmers market. “There wasn’t a strawberry left and there wasn’t a leaf of lettuce left. They loved the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. They wanted to taste everything, and they were hugging their Fresh Bucks. And they asked us to come back again.”
Several of those Greenville students attended the Saturday farmers market, Ms. Brose added.