When you hear the words “Farmers Market,” what comes to mind? Stalls of organic produce, Mason jars full of different picked oddities, maybe a few handcrafted items? The term “Farmers Market” can bring up a lot of different images in a person’s mind or maybe nothing at all if they’re unfamiliar with the concept or have never been to one.
If you do ever get the chance to go to one it might look like similar to the one held in downtown Durham. I’ve been to it. The market is seasonal, so its hours of operation change based on the time of year it is. They have a big selection of produce, baked goods, and also a selection of meat. A few local businesses also participate, so you have a chance to grab some fresh pizza or freshly brewed tea. What I didn’t know was that a place like that could also offer a way to help people in need.
The farmers market isn’t a new concept, as we recently heard from guest Lanae Hood on a recent episode of the show. “If you look at the historical data around farmers markets, they’ve always been around in some form … by the early nineties we had around 19,000 documented farmers markets, but since that time we’ve had a 200% increase.” Lanae is a social science researcher who works with food assistance programs and, as she talks about in the episode, she was able to use the farmers market to help those who are a part of the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) assistance program.
During her time working with WIC participants, she looked at the issues they faced as well as the stigma around food assistance programs. During her time working for North Carolina’s WIC Farmers Market Program she realized that she could create a convenient market right outside the WIC Clinic to give people open access to fresh fruits and vegetables more easily.
WIC is a government program that provides assistance for those in low-income families at risk for poor nutrition. As I was writing this story, I remembered that my family also was a part of the WIC program. When I asked my mother about this, she told me she also received a stipend for the farmers market. But as she was retelling this story it became clear she also faced the same problems as many of the other participants of the program had before Lanae stepped in.
Research projects can benefit people in many ways. If it wasn’t for Lanae creating a market close to those who need it, they wouldn’t have the chance to fully benefit from the program. With her help, financial constraints don’t have to mean families can’t get fresh produce in a convenient location. That seems like a story worth telling to me.
To listen to our conversation with Lanae, listen here: http://measureradio.libsyn.com/innovation-at-a-farmers-market.
– Daniela Romero
Daniela Romero is an intern with The Measure of Everyday Life and a student at North Carolina Central University.