My internship with Teller County Farmers’ Market Association at the Woodland Park Farmers’ Market mostly focused on helping to run the market each Friday and working to increase the usage of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at the market. There were other objectives on the work plan, but our supervisor emphasized that the greatest value we interns brought to the market was helping with market operations, especially considering the challenges the market personnel faced this year with family health issues. The weather was beautiful most of the time and that contributed to the festive atmosphere of the market. Thankfully the rain and cold only caused some vendors to stay home from two of the markets, Ute Pass did not close, and we did not have to close the market.Market operations included arriving before the market opened at 7:00 a.m. to help with set up of tents, tables, signs, etc., sorting payment envelopes and distributing them to vendors, disseminating “market bucks” and “SNAP dollars”, and assisting with the co-op and otherwise as needed. As the market came to a close it was time to fill out tax forms and begin tear down. Expanding the recycling program was part of the work plan, so collecting cardboard from the produce vendors became an element of the tear down process for me as well.
To promote usage of SNAP at the market I created posters and fliers advertising acceptance of SNAP at the market, and distributed them to local schools, churches, food pantries, libraries, the Woodland Park Senior Center, a clothing distribution center, the Florissant Grange, Teller County Public Health (TCPH), and the Department of Social Services (DSS). Clients of the WIC program at TCPH were invited to participate in a SNAP survey, as were clients of DSS. Feedback from the surveys was used to guide further promotional efforts.
Open houses at the high school and middle school offered opportunities to display a tri-fold board with SNAP and market information and to reach out in person and spread the word to families who may qualify for SNAP. I wrote an article about SNAP for the farmers’ market newsletter as well as the Community Partnership Family Resource Center and Teller Senior Coalition newsletters. I also distributed SNAP posters to representatives of several local organizations at the Resource Exchange meeting.
Outreach efforts are currently underway to provide transportation to the farmers’ market for SNAP qualifiers who reside in distant communities within the county. I am working with the transportation coordinator of Teller Senior Coalition and leaders in Florissant and Cripple Creek-Victor areas on this project.
I have enjoyed working with community partners to expand outreach and spread the word about acceptance of SNAP at the market. The SNAP promotion has been mostly in the form of posters and fliers. I would like to have found more opportunities for direct personal outreach through presentations and representation of the market at events.
Another objective of the work plan was to expand the local organic growers’ co-op at the farmers’ market. So I made more posters and fliers inviting local organic growers to sell their produce at the market co-op. I distributed them at a Harvest Center event and at the market (http://wpharvestcenter.org/). The Harvest Center also distributed them at their farmers’ market booth. We did see an increase in participation, but would have liked to find more egg vendors.
All in all, my experience at the farmers’ market was enjoyable and successful. My supervisor is very supportive, encouraging, and understanding. It was fun working with her and the other interns, volunteers, board members, and market vendors. I am grateful for the opportunity to engage with partners in the community as well. The experience was made richer by the relationship with Ogallala Commons (OC). The internship was effectively conducted by OC in a manner that kept me accountable and motivated. I believe in the OC mission and appreciate the work being done to promote sustainability of the environment and rural communities.