Health Department partners with local growers for upcoming farmer’s market | ParkRecord.com

Health Department partners with local growers for upcoming farmer’s market

Will accept government benefits such as SNAP and EBT

Nearly a year ago, Phil Bondurant, Summit County's environmental health director, approached Health Promotions staffers about hosting a community farmer's market at the Health Department.

Bondurant said he was hearing feedback from people in the community about the need for a more traditional farmer's market where only fresh produce is sold. He added, "We also wanted to use our resources to make the farmer's market more available to everyone in the general public, and also serve our less fortunate segments of the population."

"One of the farmer's markets in town used to accept EBT (electronic benefits transfer) and SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) so that someone that was receiving assistance could still participate in a farmer's market, but neither farmer's market is offering that option anymore," Bondurant said. "This will be open to everyone and will be a traditional farmer's market, with the option to pay using federally-funded assistance."

As part of the Health Department's effort to localize the Summit County Community Market, partnerships were formed with local growers through Summit Community Gardens, the Sheriff's Office and its working inmates program, and USU Extension.

"We had the idea that one of the ways to do that was to look at who our growers were in town, such as community gardens and other local farms. But, another group that does grow vegetables is the prisoners," Bondurant said. "They typically they use their veggies in their kitchen and they donate to different organizations throughout the community. They will sort of be the anchor point for the community market and will be our biggest provider of produce."

The Health Department will host two community markets: Tuesday, Aug. 15, and Tuesday, Sept. 12, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Additionally, the Health Department will be offering back-to-school immunizations on Aug. 15 and car seat checks on Sept. 12, respectively. Staffers will be on hand to discuss recipes and the benefits of cooking with fresh produce.

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Bondurant said prices for the produce will be set during the next couple of weeks. But, he added, "It will be standard a farmer's market with items sold at market value."

"The biggest selling point of this for me this is a great example of how the local government can really work together across different jurisdictions to not only fit the need of the community, but also provide a service to the community," Bondurant said. "We come together as a community to provide something that has been requested."

Lt. Andrew Wright said a greenhouse and large garden was constructed last spring outside of the Sheriff's Office and prison as part of the project. He said the inmates are growing a variety of produce, including lettuce, onions, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, peas, beans, basil and pumpkins, among others.

"We love having a working relationship with other entities and departments within the community, but, especially with something like this, where we can provide some skills for some inmates," Wright said. "We truly feel like we have a responsibility to rehabilitate the inmates we house in our facility. Beyond that, there is also the excitement of being able to participate in a greater community need to provide food and fresh organic produce to people in our community."

Wright said one or more inmates, supervised by a deputy, will be on site to manage their produce. He said it provides those in that program an opportunity to show off their product and their skill.

Shelley Worley, director of Health Promotion, said there is currently a state-wide push to extend access to fresh produce to recipients of federally-assisted programs.

"We have a prime location with a target population and we thought it would be a great idea to target and emphasize fresh produce nutrition education around seasonal fruit and vegetables, with some aspects around health education," Worley said. "The existing markets we have are great and they are fun and each have different items there, but, with ours, we just really want to focus on fresh produce. It's easy to get distracted by other vendors."

Worley also emphasized the need to help people in the community use more fresh produce in their diet. In 2016, less than 25 percent of Summit County's population was getting the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables in their diet, Worley said.

"We want to start making sure our families are adding that into their daily diet, especially those who are using federal assistance," Worley said. "We are just really excited about this. It has been fun to work with the other departments and everyone has pitched in and wants to participate. Maybe next year we can hold more than two."