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Hey y’all. We’re building a directory of Technical Assistance (TA) providers serving Texas farms and food businesses. We want to include you! Please take 20-30 minutes to share details about your TA services. TCLF will add your organization with a summary of your responses to the Texas Local Food Directory to help farmers and food businesses find the TA they need and for you to get the clients you want. 

Step 1. Preview the survey and consider your responses. We’ll ask about metrics of success, so please have a couple of examples ready!

Step 2. Complete the survey!

Please complete the survey by July 31st, 2024. 

Email AskMe@TexasLocalFood.org if you have any questions.

For the second year in a row, Edible DFW highlighted farmers markets in North Texas that accept SNAP (formerly known as “food stamps”) with help from the Texas Center for Local Food. The magazine’s annual farmers market guide includes information about using SNAP at eighteen of our partner markets in North Central Texas.

We’re delighted and proud to share information about SNAP at farmers markets with Edible DFW and other publications. Spreading the word strengthens farmers markets’ food access programs, boosts farmers’ revenue, and increases access to healthy, local food for all Texans.

You can explore the farmers market guide online at this link, or pick up the Summer 2024 issue at these North Texas locations.

We are thrilled to announce the launch of a dedicated Facebook group for farmers market managers across Texas! This new community is designed to bring together market managers from all corners of the state to share insights, celebrate successes, and support each other in our shared mission of fostering vibrant, thriving farmers markets.

 

What You Can Expect

 

1. Connect and Collaborate:

Join a network of fellow market managers who are eager to share their experiences and collaborate on solutions. Whether you’re looking for advice on a specific issue or want to brainstorm new ideas, you’ll find a supportive community ready to engage.

2. Share Success Stories:

Every market has its own unique story and success. Use this platform to highlight your achievements, from record-breaking attendance days to innovative vendor partnerships. Your stories can inspire and motivate others!

3. Access Valuable Resources:

Crowdsource resources tailored to the needs of farmers market managers. From marketing strategies and vendor management tips to grant writing and community engagement techniques, our shared knowledge base will be an invaluable asset.

4. Participate in Discussions and Polls:

Engage in lively discussions and contribute to polls that address the topics most relevant to you. This is your space to voice your opinions, ask questions, and share your expertise.

5. Join Virtual Meetups and Events:

We plan to host regular virtual meetups and webinars where you can learn from experts and each other. These events will provide opportunities for deeper connections and learning.

 

How to Join

Joining the group is simple and quick. Just click here to visit our Facebook group page and request to join. Once you’re a member, introduce yourself and your market. We can’t wait to meet you and learn more about your market.

Our goal is to create a vibrant, supportive community where farmers market managers can thrive. By joining this group, you’re not just gaining access to resources and support; you’re also contributing to a network that values collaboration and mutual growth. We look forward to growing and succeeding together. See you in the group!

TCLF is hiring! This temporary, remote position is an excellent opportunity for recent graduates to gain hands-on experience, mentorship, and the chance to shape the future of sustainable agriculture with flexibility.

We’re looking for an enthusiastic individual to work 20-30 hours a week from June – September to promote the Beyond Fresh Online series of courses on value-added products on TXFED.org. Pay starts at $25/hr with potential raise to $30.

Apply today!

Review the job description here.

Email your resume, cover letter, and a writing sample to AskMe@TexasLocalFood.org.

It’s a wrap! And I’m not talking about the delicious Rainbow Veggie wraps Farm to Kids students made – our Spring session has come to an end. I’m Ms.Barbie, Farm-to-Kids assistant educator, and I am excited to tell you how things went.

This spring, our Farm-to-Kids students embarked on a journey to explore Texas’s local food system. They didn’t just learn about it; they experienced it, from cutting vegetables to flipping their pancakes! They also had the unique opportunity to tour Austin Community College’s thriving sustainable farm and shop at Elgin Farmers Market to gain a deeper understanding of where our food comes from. 

Although this was my first time meeting the students, there were many returning faces excited to be in Farm-to-Kids classes. Students would walk into the classroom looking forward to the cooking activity of the day.  “Ms., what are we cooking today? Are we cooking ____ again? Eager to start the lesson, they would try to volunteer for specific roles, “I wanna do the salsa! Can I flip the tortillas?” Every student was given a role and reminded that each job is still important no matter how big or small it is. Many of our students enjoyed making a new recipe, mild avocado salsa, which for some was their first time trying avocado. The salsa also caught the students who said they didn’t like avocados by surprise. Another student’s favorite recipe was making pesto sauce with carrot top greens, which was so delicious that students scraped the food processor clean!

The middle and high school students had the opportunity to end the Spring session by competing in a “Top Chef Challenge.” Students were separated into two teams and had to put together a dish using 3 local ingredients. They came up with a variety of tasty dishes. Many of the students were surprised with their creations as they thought they couldn’t make a dish out of random ingredients. Who knew they were going to use ingredients that were meant to throw them off?

The Farm-to-Kids program extends beyond giving students hands-on cooking experience. Elgin’s middle and high school students toured Austin Community College’s Elgin Sustainable Farm, which allowed many students to visit a local farm and harvest vegetables for the first time. Students shared that they enjoyed harvesting carrots and onions and meeting ACC’s newest addition to the farm, Hyline Brown laying hens.

Lastly, Farm-to-Kids gave students the opportunity to support local farmers by bringing them to the Elgin Farmers Market where students tasted and described local produce using their five senses before exploring the market and purchasing locally-grown food with special tokens sponsored by TCLF. Many students stepped out of their comfort zones and bought veggies that they’d never had before. They later reported that their parents made something delicious from the veggies they purchased.

As a first-time educator, I am thrilled to share that I couldn’t have asked for a more fulfilling experience than this! It was amazing seeing the students try new things and get a better understanding of our local food system. Thank you to the students, the food, and most importantly the farmers! We couldn’t have done this without you.

At the Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF), we’re dedicated to fostering equitable local food systems while ensuring farmers can earn a decent living from farming year after year. Our initiative, “A Fresh Look at Your Farmers Market” SNAP-Ed Program, seeks proposals from qualified organizations to increase access to locally-grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets among SNAP shoppers in Brownsville and Harlingen, Texas. SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is the largest and most successful anti-hunger program in the U.S. and helps boost local economies when shoppers use their benefits with local food producers. 

Project Overview

The chosen contractor will collaborate closely with TCLF Farmers Market Specialists to engage SNAP recipients within a 30-minute radius of Brownsville and Harlingen. With a $10,000 budget, we aim to reach 5,000 unique SNAP recipients, distributing educational materials, participating in monthly outreach events, fostering community partnerships, and providing feedback to TCLF staff.

Desired Qualifications

We seek bilingual (English and Spanish) contractors with experience in serving SNAP beneficiaries and conducting outreach in the targeted regions. Alignment with TCLF’s mission and goals as well as collaborative communication are essential. Our ideal candidate shares our vision of equitable food systems and is committed to empowering communities through access to nutritious, locally sourced produce. Successful candidates will demonstrate initiative, a spirit for innovation, and high levels of reporting and evaluation transparency. 

Submission Details

Please review the Request for Proposals document. Interested parties are invited to submit proposals to Yelitza Garcia (Yelitza@TexasLocalFood.org), detailing qualifications, proposed strategies, and references from previous projects. Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis until a contractor is selected.

Join Us in Making a Difference

At TCLF, we’re driven by the belief that everyone deserves access to fresh, healthy food. By partnering with farmers markets and dedicated organizations, we can make this vision a reality. Together, let’s empower SNAP recipients, support local agriculture, and build stronger, healthier communities. We eagerly anticipate your proposals as we embark on this journey of positive change.

The recent wildfires that swept through the Texas Panhandle have left a trail of devastation, impacting countless lives and livelihoods. It’s more important than ever to rally together and support our local farmers who have been severely affected by the fires.

The wildfires, which erupted on February 26, 2024, have ravaged vast stretches of land, leaving behind a landscape scarred by flames. Communities have been displaced, homes destroyed, and livestock lost (Associated Press). The road to recovery will be long and challenging, but with our collective support, we can help our farmers rebuild and restore their livelihoods. 

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, along with local and state resources, is spearheading relief efforts to assist the residents of the Texas Panhandle. They are working tirelessly to coordinate aid and provide essential supplies to those in need. As part of their efforts, they are calling for donations of hay, feed, fence supplies, cow feed, and wildlife feed to support farmers in rebuilding their operations. For more information on how you can donate supplies or volunteer your time to assist with wildfire relief efforts, please contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at (806) 354-5800 from 8 am – 5 pm CST, or visit this webpage.

The USDA is opening a special disaster sign-up for $6 million in additional funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for producers in the Texas Panhandle who have been impacted by recent wildfires. Producers must submit applications to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) by April 8th, 2024, to be considered for this funding opportunity. For more information, log on to the NRCS Texas website.

But support doesn’t stop there. We, as Texas consumers and neighbors, can also make a difference by shopping with local farmers and supporting our farmers markets. By purchasing fresh, locally grown produce, we not only support our farmers financially but also contribute to the resilience of our local food system. Let’s come together as a community to show our solidarity and support for those who feed us.

In addition to donating supplies and shopping locally, it’s important to prioritize the well-being of our farmers. Farming can be a high-stress career, and farmers need to have access to resources and support networks. If you or someone you know needs assistance, NCAT’s ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program offers valuable resources to help farmers find the support they need to succeed.

In times of crisis, it’s heartening to see communities come together to support one another. Texas will continue to stand strong, shoulder to shoulder, as we rebuild and restore hope for a brighter future for farmers and communities alike.

Together, we can build back, better connected and more resilient than ever. 

Sanger, a small town in Denton County, is not what most folks picture when they hear the term “food desert.” That phrase connotes big cities, not small towns–especially in Denton County with its many food producers: farmers, ranchers, bakers, and other small food businesses.

But despite these numerous producers, Sanger doesn’t have a grocery store with consistent access to fresh produce. And many of the choices that do exist are national chains, which funnel money out of the community and away from small businesses.

Amber Whitworth-Spigner and a team of volunteers started the Downtown Sanger Farmers Market in 2022 to help alleviate both problems. They aim to support small food producers and the Sanger community. “This market was inspired by the people who will stand in the cold and in the rain to support their families and keep the food on the table no matter what the circumstances,” Amber said. 

Even though they’re all volunteers and no one is getting paid for this work, the market team continues to identify needs in the community and expand the work that they’re doing in response.

The Downtown Sanger market is open every other weekend on both Saturdays and Sundays with varying hours to make sure as many folks as possible can make it to the market, rather than the usual Saturday-morning-only model. 

The market is also going to start accepting SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) when they reopen for the season in March–another initiative to make sure as many Sanger residents as possible can take advantage of what the market has to offer. Amber and her husband are also working to start a second market in Valley View, another community with low food access.

“We want to be there for the community,” Amber said. “Having a place in town to shop locally-made or locally-grown items is a privilege that not many have.”

The Downtown Sanger Farmers Market market brings farmers, ranchers, and local producers together with local consumers of the Sanger and surrounding communities. The market is open the first and third weekends of the month from mid-March through early December, on Saturdays from 9 AM-1 PM and on Sundays from 10 AM-2 PM. 

The 2024 market season opens on March 16–click here for more details!

Farmers Market managers convened in San Antonio during the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA) Conference on January 29, 2024 for the 3rd annual Farmers Market Track meetup and market-focused sessions.

Nino Budabin McQuown, the Farmers Market Coalition Food Access Project Manager, broke down 2022 data on national farmers market statistics and highlighted specific impacts in Texas. Check out Nino’s recorded presentation with a free login and enrollment at TXFED.org.

TCLF’s Anna Wright Smith taught a course on how to accept SNAP, and the Sustainable Food Center’s Wanda Hernandez and Jeanette Castañón shared about nutrition incentives and how they work. Yelitza Garcia of TCLF led market leaders in “How to Make your Market Welcoming to SNAP Shoppers,” featuring excellent advice and tools from Liz Shafer of Texas Farmers’ Markets.

MarketLink and FNS joined us at TOFGA for the first time this year, approving 4 farms and 2 markets to receive the EBT equipment grant and start accepting SNAP!

We hope you’ll join us next year at the TOFGA Conference!

Don’t miss out, are you interested in accepting SNAP at your farmers market? Join us for an information session on Wednesday, February 28 at 5:30 PM Central. Register for the webinar on Zoom and prepare your questions. We can’t wait to see you there!

Visit our Community page to join the Texas Network of Farmers Markets: https://texaslocalfood.org/community/