Market Central, Inc.
PO Box 201
Charlottesville, VA 22902
|Primary Contact||Cecile Gorham|
|Executive Director||Cecile Gorham|
|Primary Focus Area||Other|
Market Central connects the community to local farms and food to enrich health, the environment, the local economy and social and cultural diversity
We are passionate about the roles that a local, public market can play in a community as:
A source for fresh, local foods
A venue for local artisans
A social gathering place
A business incubator
An economic driver
An environmentally conscious choice
Market Central understands the great impact that farmers markets have on local farms, the environment, the economy, health, and the social fabric of the community. We conduct a market currency program that enables SNAP recipients to access local food and increases affordability with matching SNAP incentive coupons.
We co-sponsor and manage the Farmers Market at IX year round to support farm income and continued access to local food. We are engaged with the Food Justice Network and other food-related organizations to understand the roll of equitable food access in the community and how it relates to local producers and farmers markets. We welcome community collaboration to bring first hand knowledge and experience to the concept of farmers markets, so that we can adapt and update our vision and to bring it to fruition.
|Title:||Market Currency Program|
|Description:||To support local farms, and increase access to healthy food, Market Central offers families a system to use the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) at the market. In partnership with other non-profits we also match up to $50 of SNAP tokens with incentive coupons. Debit and credit cards may also be used to buy market currency which holds down cost for vendors.|
|Examples of Program Success:||For the 2020 market season, SNAP customers used $4,872 SNAP and $4,872 in Virginia Fresh Match to purchase local farm and producer food for an increase of coupon benefits. These sales increase farm income, and enable SNAP families to access healthy fresh, environmentally sustainable food.|
|Total Program Budget:||$10,000 to $20,000 depending on match funding, number of markets, and required staff|
|Category:||SNAP match, personnel|
|Title:||Sponsorship and Management of the Farmers Market at IX|
|Description:||The Ix Art Park and Market Central collaborated in 2018 to found the areas first winter market. In 2020, and 2021, the market became a year round market in response to vendor and customer needs to access local food during COVID. The market sustains local farm and food producer income and offers a local option for consumers to bypass food shortages, excessive food miles and CO2 emissions, and to access fresher food. |
The farmers market is at Ix Art Park every Saturday from 8am-12pm during the summer, and 9am-1pm during the winter, and Thursdays from 4:00 until 8:00 p.m.
|Examples of Program Success:||The market has grown substantially throughout 2020 and 2021. As of mid-2021 the market sustains the income of 60 vendors, of which about 40 offer SNAP eligible products. We receive weekly applications from farm, prepared food and artisan vendors. Our market supports diversity by including vendors of multicultural heritages such as Afghanistan, Korea, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, The Filipins, Haiti, Turkey, Cameroon, Greece, China, and the USA. Customers have demonstrated support for the local food option, thereby contributing to the local economy and making environmentally supportive choices. |
From Sept - Oct. 2020, and June 2021, we opened a Thursday night market to serve local food producers. This market does not meet the requirements to offer SNAP.
|Total Program Budget:||$16,000|
|Category:||staff, marketing, supplies|
|Title:||Farmers Market Advocacy|
|Description:||As a member of the Farmers Market Coalition, The Charlottesville Food Justice Network, the Center for Non-profit Excellence, and other organizations, Market Central engages in research to provide information and leadership about best practices and trends in farmer market issues.|
|Examples of Program Success:||Market Central was instrumental in the Market Plaza development concept to bring a permanent home to Charlottesville City Market. However, after 5 years of negotiations and site development with the city, the contractor pulled out of the project. Market Central continues to engage market stakeholders to identify solutions that would best solve obstacles to improvements to local markets. Successfully founding the Winter Market and the Markets at Ix are the results of responding to community needs for local food.|
|Total Program Budget:||$7,200.|
|Category:||staff time, outreach|
|Title:||Market Currency Program|
|Description:||This program requires that Market Central staff/volunteers set up at each market event to operate the wireless terminal so that customers may use their bank cards or SNAP cards to obtain market currency. SNAP customers receive federal benefits and matching coupons to purchase eligible food. The farmers redeem the market currency for cash payments. Data and reports are essential for tracking and accountability. |
Marketing is essential for customers to be aware of the program and its benefits.
|Project Timeline||Year round|
|Title:||Market Sponsorship and Management|
|Description:||Managing and sponsoring the Saturday and Thursday farmers markets requires registering vendors, marking up and maintaining the event space, notifying vendors, marketing the weekly event, and managing the event on site in real time including the compost program. |
The costs involved include staff for operations, marketing, and supplies. We have volunteer opportunities as well.
|Project Timeline||Year round|
|Title:||Farmers Market Advocay|
|Description:||Staff to research farmers market issues, trends and best practices and to convey the research to stakeholders. Our resources include the Farmers Market Coalition, the Wholesome Wave, Project for Public Spaces, and Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. We maintain contact with market vendors through our programs, attend or follow up meetings with the Virginia Farmers Market Association, and the Charlottesville Food Justice Network. Although the board conducts much of the research and advocacy, and has a member with market management certification, staff time is needed to maintain consistency and momentum, and organize correspondence, meetings and records. We use the research to develop programs and provide leadership in farmers market issues.|