Fun, educational, family-friendly—just a few of the words that new farmers’ market attendees used to describe the official opening day for the Belfast Farmers’ Market this past Friday.
The new faces were part of an outreach program for community service providers. The Belfast Farmers’ Market is one of over 30 markets across the state that accepts EBT (SNAP/food stamps) and provides discounts for EBT users. A group of local organizations that has been working to increase participation in this program held an EBT Training Day for market “ambassadors”—community providers who work with low-income individuals in the region.
The purpose of the Training Day was to showcase the Market to the ambassadors, demonstrate the simplicity of the system, and expose more people to the diverse variety of products that can be found at market. Ambassadors will now spread that knowledge and excitement with their program recipients, EBT-eligible customers.
And that excitement was certainly present. Between the baby goats, live music, and of course the food— despite the limited early May offerings —everyone seemed thrilled to be there, enjoying the sunny day and socializing around the picnic tables.
Over a dozen community providers attended, including some who had never visited the farmers’ market. Shared impressions included “much less intimidating than I thought” and “the vendors were all very friendly and helpful!” during this fun exploration of the market and what will hopefully become shared enthusiasm about this venue for accessing local food directly from the producers.
By increasing the potential customer base for the market through participation in the EBT program, low-income consumers will benefit from improved access to local food and community connections while directing more of those federal dollars to local farmers.
The Belfast Farmers’ Market operates year-round on Fridays from 9am to 1pm, and recently moved to its outdoor location at Waterfall Arts, 256 High Street. In November, it will move back indoors to the greenhouse at Aubuchon Hardware in Belfast.