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Brevard County Farmers Market Provides Locally-Grown Foods

Although the Brevard County Farmers Market, held every Thursday from 3pm to 6pm at the Wickham Park Equestrian Center in Melbourne, is by no means the largest in Florida…typically featuring 12-20 vendors…they pride themselves on authenticity. Simply put, they are dedicated to providing locally grown and produced items to the community.

One of their favorite programs is the Florida Organic Growers’ (FOG) Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) program, which essentially doubles the purchasing power of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) patrons. This grant-funded program provides wider access to healthy, locally grown Florida fruits and vegetables through farmers markets statewide for consumers who receive federal nutrition assistance benefits including SNAP. How does it work? For every SNAP dollar token patrons purchase at the market through Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, they receive an additional dollar token for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables. The market will match up to $35.00 per purchase.

Why is the “local” part of the market and this program so important? A study by Moody’s Analytics states that for every dollar that is spent in locally, there is a multiplier effect of $1.73 in economic return. A 2012 study compiled by the University of Florida’s Center for Public Issues Education (PIE) estimates that consumers in Florida spent $1.8 billion at farmers’ markets, roadside stands and U-pick businesses. Restaurants and other food-service establishments accounted for $320 million, and prearranged farm-to-consumer sales, including community-supported agriculture, totaled $103 million. These are huge numbers, and they are important to the economic health of Florida and Brevard County.

The Brevard County Farmers market is a joint project between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science (UF/IFAS) Brevard County and Brevard County Parks and Recreation. In addition to the market, the project includes a community garden and the 4-H Fabulous Farm Club barn. These 4-H club members are dedicated to raising heritage breed chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese…and now three very personable goats!

Want to learn more about this program? Contact Melinda Morgan-Stowell, UF/IFAS Community Development Agent, at 321-633-1702 ext. 238!

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