Folks Love Coupons

Another way to get new customers to the market and keep folks coming back is to create coupon books for the market. Coupons can offer savings for vendors at the market, requiring a little coordination between vendors, or include local businesses that sponsor market events, like Farm to Table dinners.

Several Vermont markets coordinate with local businesses to entice customers to support both their local farmers’ market and local shops:

  • Coupon books with local shop savings are compiled and distributed at markets to customers
  • Customers who spend $20 or more at participating businesses are given a $5 coupon to redeem at the farmers’ market

Market coupons also make excellent prizes for contests that engage the community, such as a market logo or poster competition. Maine farmers’ markets have had success mailing flyers with $1 coupons to thousands of homes in market communities. Though only a small percentage were redeemed, the campaign certainly brought new customers to markets! Offering as little as a dollar off can bring in new customers and get them hooked on the fresh food and community your market provides!

Keep Them Coming Back with My Market Club

My Market Club is an incentive program that operates much like a frequent shopper program for farmers’ markets, rewarding customers on their return visits to the market. Funded by Georgia Organics, the My Market Club program was created to connect communities to their own food by first, getting them to their local farmers’ market and then, keeping them coming back. Most people need that incentive to start a new behavior. Encouraging new customers to come back and shop at the market sooner, rather than later, can help make their market stop a regular one and promote a personal connection to their local farmers’ market.

The My Market Club has compiled many resources online in a dropbox folder, including everything from their proposed incentive tiers:

a. First time  -­‐ $5 in tokens to spend on local food
b. Second time – Rewards Card
c. Third time – Local Product (~$1  per  unit)

to a Produce Guide, focusing on nutritional information and seasonal availability for Georgia produce.

Markets that are not partnering with Georgia Organics to operate the My Market Club are encouraged to implement a similarly structured program, backed by budgeted market funds, grants, or community sponsor. Read more about the My Market Club on the Georgia Organics site here!

Promoting Markets with Incentive Programs

This month’s posts will highlight incentive programs meant to encourage individuals to shop at local farmers’ markets and increase their intake of nutritious foods.

Wholesome Wave Georgia’s flagship program, the Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP), is a kind of incentive program that encourages recipients of government benefits like SNAP and WIC to use those benefits at their local farmers’ markets. The DVCP makes healthy, local food more affordable to low income individuals, supports local farmers, and keeps federal benefit funds in the community. Through Wholesome Wave National, variations of the DVCP are also offered in over 20 other states around the country. Wholesome Wave Georgia’s DVCP is unique in that it doubles SNAP dollars for all SNAP-eligible items, including produce, meat, dairy, and jams.

Wholesome Wave Georgia also piloted the Double Up incentive program at a handful of its partner markets this season. Similar to the DVCP, Double Up provides an incentive in the form of doubled SNAP dollars, but the doubled dollars received can only be used for local fruits and veggies.

As funding opportunities for incentive programs increase, like the availability of USDA funding through their Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program, we can continuously increase access to healthy, fresh food for all.

Helping Seniors Eat Well for Less

For seniors living on a fixed income, eating healthy, wholesome foods can be hard to prioritize. Programs like the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) can help low income seniors by providing coupons that can be exchanged for produce at local farmers’ markets. Bobby Wilson ofMetro Atlanta Urban Farm, a WWG partner and participating SFMNP farmer, recently shared some insights from his experience working with seniors.

How do you see seniors benefit from WWG’s incentive programs like Double Up?
Bobby Wilson: It enables them to stretch their food dollar and get higher quality produce. They are not only able to purchase and prepare enough for themselves, but they are able to invite guests, family members over to enjoy a healthy, wholesome meal.

How do you explain Double Up? Do you use different messaging for seniors?
BW: I try to keep it real simple: if you spend a dollar, you get another dollar of produce free – up to $50, you get $100. It’s doubling your buck. I keep it simple in terms of explanation.

What do you see as the biggest obstacle in getting seniors to visit the market? How do you keep them coming back?
BW: Transportation is definitely the biggest obstacle in getting to and from the market. [Some senior organizations/centers organize vans to bring them on “field trips” to the farm.] Seniors seem to enjoy special events at the farm and field trips with educational programs and cooking demonstrations; they enjoy sitting under the old oak tree and reminiscing about old times and farms they grew up on.

Which items are most popular for seniors?
BW: They usually go for the seasonal veggies – beans, greens, peas. And the younger folks move towards fruits – peaches, plums. [foods that are ready to eat, require little preparation] There is a great need for teaching the younger generation to prepare vegetables in a wholesome, tasty way for themselves and their kids – it’s so desperately needed in their diets.

How does the farm benefit from partnering with WWG and being able to offer the Double Up incentive?
BW: The signage [WWG provided] has worked to get people to stop by. Other organizations are starting to send their clients, like SafeLink and the Hosea Williams Feed the Hungry program. We’re able to move more produce at one given time. We often have a surplus, so it helps put that produce to good use and get a fair return on our input into the farm – that’s one of the biggest benefits.


Wholesome Wave is hosting a webinar “Fundraising for Incentive Programs – a NNIN Webinar” onNov 3, 2015 1:00 PM EST. Register here:

This webinar will discuss major fundraising opportunities for nutrition incentive programs, particularly the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program through USDA, how to raise your “match” for this opportunity, and best practices for applying to federal funding sources.

This webinar is designed for nutrition incentive program operators. A link to the recorded webinar will be sent to all registrants after the event, although it is recommend to attend live to get specific questions answered.

Food Day is October 24!

National Food Day is coming up this Saturday, October 24! This day encourages Americans to celebrate and consider incorporating real food in their diets and to push for real policy change relating to food production, access, and environmental sustainability. This year’s theme is “Toward a Greener Diet.”

Observe Food Day in your community by highlighting little-known or special veggies at your farm or market or celebrate a special event! The Forsyth Farmers’ Market will be celebrating the launch of their Farm Truck 912 at the Savannah Food Day Festival this Saturday!

For fact sheets on Food Day and resources to organize, plan, and publicize your event, visit the Food Day website for tons of free downloadable materials.

Veterans Growing in the Community

Farmers markets and gardening can provide veterans with community support and horticulture therapy, helping to cope with post-military issues many face. Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics and organizations like the Veterans Empowerment Organization work to provide opportunities for veterans to gain job skills and adjust to life outside the military.

Atlanta’s 3×3 Project in Castleberry Hills is a wonderful example of veterans using gardening to uplift and support other veterans and the surrounding community. The Jamaal Addison Garden is a sustainable organic community garden that provides healthy, local food options for the underserved in the community and area veterans. The innovative design uses a sustainable modular milk crate gardening system. This system makes the work of gardening easier for seniors and those with disabilities, as 18 inches is the furthest reach from any side of the grid. The 3×3 Project opened theAtlanta Veterans Farmers Market this year to support and expand the project to other states.

Coming up:: Wholesome Wave Georgia will be conducting a SNAP enrollment at the Fort McPherson VA Community Clinic in East Point this Saturday, October 17, from 8am-2pm.

Connecting with Veterans

Through the month of October, our posts will focus on connecting specifically with veterans and seniors in your community!

It may come as a surprise to some that many veterans rely on SNAP to provide nutritious food for their families and themselves. In 2014, the USDA reported that 7% of veterans, over 1.5 million individuals, received SNAP benefits. Another 1-2% of active duty military depend on SNAP benefits, further breaking the ill-informed stereotype of the typical SNAP recipient.

The same income limits for SNAP eligibility apply to veterans and active duty military, though Combat pay, Hostile Fire pay, and Imminent Danger Pay are not counted as income for SNAP. Under SNAP guidelines, veterans and their dependents are also considered disabled (and more likely to qualify for SNAP) if they are permanently housebound, in need of regular aid and attendance, or are a surviving spouse or child of a veteran who is receiving Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and is considered to be disabled.

Reach out to your local VA office or clinic to let them know your market accepts and doubles SNAP and proudly welcomes veterans! Find a VA center near you here.

Spread the word:: Wholesome Wave Georgia will be conducting a SNAP enrollment at the Fort McPherson VA Community Clinic in East Point Saturday, October 17, from 8am-2pm.

National Farm to School Month

October is around the corner, and it’s National Farm to School Month! Farm to School month highlights the importance of relationships between farms and schools and the programs implemented to improve agriculture education and child nutrition and support local economies. Georgia Organics serves as the state lead for the National Farm to School Network and is celebrating carrots by theming this year’s Farm to School Month “Rooting for Carrots”. You can sign up on their website to participate and receive resources via email, including carrot-themed activities, videos, and lesson plans.

Use the hashtag #RootingForCarrots on social media to post pictures of your carrot activities – the poster with the most #RootingForCarrots photos will win a prize! Partner with your local school for some carrot-themed fun and celebrate all things carrots!

The Georgia Department of Education and Wholesome Wave Georgia recently hosted a webinar to discuss partnerships between farmers markets and schools and resources for Farm to School month. View the webinar HERE! (You must enter your name and email to view.)


Field Trips to the Market

To get kids in your community interested in all the goodness of your market, hold field trip days welcoming groups to visit the market, learn about fruits and veggies, and meet the farmers that grow them! Check out these fun lesson plans and activities developed for specific age groups and school grades:

1st Grade
2nd-3rd Grade
4th-5th Grade

School Garden Grant:
The Whole Kids Foundation, in partnership with FoodCorps, the School Garden Grant program provides a $2,000 monetary grant to a K-12 school, or a nonprofit working in partnership with a K-12 school, to support a new or existing edible garden on school grounds. Read more about this grant here.

Apply here! 
Deadline: October 31, 2015 at 5pm CST

Feed My School for a Week!

A great way to get schools fully involved with their local farmers and agriculture is Georgia Grown’s “Feed My School for a Week” program, which aims to help schools provide at least 75% of locally grown food in their cafeterias during week-long event. Started in 2011, the Feed My School program is now in 19 Georgia schools, having added 6 new schools this year.

The 3-years schools commit to participate in the program are used to create a structure for future sustainable farm-to-school capabilities, teaching schools and farmers how they can best work together. Ag Commissioner Gary Black champions the program, stating, “The end result will be healthier Georgia students, decreased barriers in farm-to-school efforts, and increased awareness as students learn and experience, both educationally and nutritionally, where their food comes from.” Look for applications on Georgia Grown’s website early in 2016 for next year’s application to get your school district involved!

Don’t forget to join WWG and the Georgia Department of Education next Monday, September 21st for a webinar to discuss how your school’s nutrition or farm to school departments can work with local farmers and farmers markets! Join us from 2-3 pm and begin planning for Farm to School Month! Register now! ->

**Update 9.25.15:: View the webinar HERE! (You must enter your name and email to view.)

Lesson Plans & Resources for Working with Schools

How much do kids in your community know about farming and where their food comes from? Share your expertise to improve kids’ understanding of agriculture and the benefits of eating wholesome, locally grown food! Partner with a teacher at a school near you to share about farming in Georgia or lead a mini-lesson around a fun activity at the market.

  • Georgia Grown has developed excellent resources for kids in and out of the classroom, including a coloring book and cookbook, and all are available for download on their Feed My School site.


  • Georgia Organics has a bounty school-related resources. Check out one of their 5-unit kindergarten-2nd grade lesson plans here!

October is Farm to School month! The Georgia Department of Education and Wholesome Wave Georgia (WWG) are partnering up to host a webinar to discuss how your school’s nutrition or farm to school departments can work with local farmers and farmers markets! This webinar will discuss several resources, tools and examples to use as you brainstorm ways to collaborate with your local farmers market.

Join us September 21st from 2-3 pm and begin planning for Farm to School Month! Register now! ->

**Update 9.25.15:: View the webinar HERE! (You must enter your name and email to view.)

School Partnerships

School is back in session, and it’s a great time to connect with your market’s younger customers! Plan some kid-friendly activities for your market days before your season ends, or start planning for next year! The Red Tricycle blog has some great ideas for engaging kids at the market; share these with parents or hold market-wide contests:

Scavenger Hunts
Find a funny-looking vegetable. Spot three yellow fruits. Find a food that looks like a person. Give your child a camera and turn it into a photo scavenger hunt.

Taste Test
With so many opportunities to sample market foods, your little ones can experiment with new flavors and discover new favorite foods. Challenge them to try three new things when you visit the market.

Talk of the Farm
Encourage your chicks to talk to farmers. Ask for samples. Ask about farm animals. Is it hard to be a farmer? What’s their favorite vegetable?

The Farmers Market Coalition sponsors Power of Produce (POP) Clubs that teach kids healthy eating habits and encourages them to interact with the farmers at their local market. From the USDA blog:

Through innovative programs like the Power of Produce (POP) Club, farmers markets across the country are teaching children how to make healthy eating choices. This program, started at the Oregon City Farmers Market, invites children to learn more about some of their favorite foods. Participating in events like planting sunflower seeds or making jam gives the youngsters a chance to better understand where their food comes from. By receiving $2 to spend on fresh produce every time they visit the market to keeping a log of what they buy, the children become immersed in a world of healthy eating.  Last year, 1,781 children aged 5 to 12 years old joined, resulting in 5,180 shopping trips.

Approaching Potential Funders

Once you have determined your needed level of funding and identified potential funders, the next step is to connect with these individuals or organizations! provides a great explanation of the importance of funding request letters and what an effective letter should include:

Like a grant proposal, the letter of inquiry should include the following sections:

The introduction serves as the executive summary for the letter of inquiry and includes the name of your organization, the amount needed or requested, and a description of the project.

The organization description should be concise and focus on the ability of your organization to meet the stated need.

The statement of need must convince the reader that there is an important need that can be met by your project.

The methodology should be appropriate to your statement of need and present a clear, logical, and achievable solution to the stated need.

Other funding sources being approached for support of this project should be listed in a brief sentence or paragraph.

The final summary restates the intent of the project, affirms your readiness to answer further questions, and thanks the potential funder for its consideration.

View the entire article on here!

Check out this page on LoveToKnow for 8 good examples of goal-specific fundraising letters!


**Save the Date! 

Transforming Food Access Summit: Accelerating Affordabilitywith Nutrition Incentives

Hosted by Wholesome Wave at the Emory Conference Center and Hotel, Atlanta, GA

January 11 – 13, 2016

Learn more about the Summit. Topic areas will include: nutrition incentives in a sustainable and equitable food system; program design; research; policy; nutrition incentives in retail environments; healthcare integration; and technology.

Proposal Submissions Due September 18th

Now accepting submissions for presenters, sessions and workshops! Click here, and submit your proposal by Friday, September 18th.

Grants for Funding

Though grants should not be relied upon as a sustainable funding source, there are many grant opportunities that arise throughout the year from both private funders and the federal, state, and local government. Private funders are usually interested in funding specific objectives that are related to their own mission and values. Government grants may offer the opportunity to apply for large sums of funding, but usually are more involved and time-intensive in the application and reporting processes. Keep a check on websites that regularly post grant opportunities for farmers, markets, and community development projects, such as the Farmers Market CoalitionUSDA, and the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

Grant Writing Resources and Classes in Georgia:

  • Find (mostly free) weekly grant writing and other nonprofit-focused courses and webinars onGrantSpace’s Atlanta Training Calendar.
  • The Farmers Market Coalition’s (lengthy) webinar “Winning Grants with Logic Models” is full of great tips for grant writing, focusing on the importance of a grant’s evaluation component and the use of logic models as a project development and design tool.
  • The University of Georgia offers grant writing courses for nonprofits both online and in a classroom setting; read more about these here.

Market Merchandise: One Deed for Two Needs

Customized market merchandise can be a great source of funding year-round, as well as offer additional visibility and promotion for your market. Your market shoppers take pride in their local market – help them help you spread the word! Add your market’s logo to reusable shopping bags, t-shirts, water bottles, aprons, stickers, etc.

Check out East Point Farmers Market‘s merchandise page for some great examples!

Whether you’re using the merchandise profits for general market operations or for your SNAP incentive contribution, be sure to let customers know what the funds are going towards and that you’ve ensured profitability by taking into consideration the cost of materials and staff time involved in the creation and selling of merchandise.

Check out these options for creating your own market wares:
       VistaPrint — custom T-shirts, totes, hats, hoodies, posters, bumper stickers, mugs
       Custom Ink — customized aprons, etc.
       StickersBanners — custom bumper stickers, etc.

Fundraising for Farmers’ Markets

One of the greatest challenges for farmers markets can be sustainable funding. August’s posts will focus on fundraising options and creative ideas – post and share your own!

The Farmers Market Coalition hosted a great webinar on fundraising, Creative Fundraising Strategies for Farmers Markets. You can download the slides here or watch a recording of the webinar here to learn about these successful fundraisers.

What’s your board’s role in fundraising? Make sure they’re involved! Check out these slides by nonprofit consultant Andy RobinsonMobilize Your Board to Raise More Money. The Massachusetts Dept. of Agricultural Resources has a great one-pager of fundraising ideas, including this one:

“Board of Directors – It is common for board members of non-profit organizations to have financial responsibilities. As such, you may want to consider making it a requirement for board members to raise a certain amount of money each year – perhaps $500 or $1,000. So as not to exclude committed board members, you can substitute volunteer hours for money raised.”

A detailed collection of successful fundraising ideas from the Virginia Main Street organization can be viewed here. Then check out this article from the Memphis Farmers Market about their revenue sources and strategies!

National Farmers Market Week August 2-8

Next week, August 2-8, is National Farmers Market Week, celebrating the important role farmers’ markets play in our local economies. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the fantastic services your market provides!

The Farmers Market Coalition has compiled a toolkit full of templates, resources, and social media tips to help you spread the word about this special week and share how farmers’ markets benefit their communities! Included is a great list of talking points like this one:

“Farmers’ markets increase access to fresh, nutritious food. Several studies have found lower prices for conventional and organic produce at farmers markets than at supermarkets. Due to this and other factors, 52% more SNAP households shop at farmers markets and from direct marketing farmers today than in 2011.”

See and download the complete Farmers Market Talking Points and Facts sheet here!

Then check out these other resources:

How will your market celebrate?

Cooking Matters -Toolkit for Cooking Demonstrations

Bringing you more cooking demo and food education resources!

As part of the No Kid Hungry campaign to end childhood hunger in America, Cooking Matters was founded to empower families across the country to select and prepare healthy and affordable meals. Their programs teach low-income families to use nutrition information to make healthier choices, cook delicious meals, and eat better for less.

Cooking Matters designed a toolkit to be a comprehensive guide on how to plan and lead an effective cooking demonstration while introducing key nutrition and food budgeting messages. Based on their courses that teach families how to cook and eat healthy on a budget, this toolkit provides tips, activities, and recipes that can be used to execute a successful food demonstration.

Download PDF of Cooking Matters in Your Community

Download PDF of Cooking Matters Farmers' Market Toolkit

All activities and recipes included are designed to be accessible and affordable for the limited-resource families that Cooking Matters and its partner organizations serve. The Farmers’ Market Toolkit includes extra handouts, recipes, and information for seasonal fruits and veggie cooking and storing! Check them out!

Planning Your Food Demo

Hosting a successful food demonstration requires a lot of planning! Here’s some great links for a jump start:

A Guide to Cooking Demonstrations

July is here, and it’s busy season at Georgia farmers’ markets! Catch your customers’ attention while showcasing products you can find at your market with a cooking demonstration. Cooking demos are great for sharing simple, healthy, and affordable meal and snack ideas.

Customers that may not feel comfortable asking about different ways to prepare unfamiliar foods can learn from the demo and take a provided recipe card with them to try the recipe at home. Recruit one of your markets’ vendors or invite a local UGA Extension agent or chef to conduct the demo. Involving a local chef may grab the press’s attention and provide your market with some free advertising. The demonstrator can teach customers about how to best select the ingredients for the dish, their nutrient value, and possible substitutions while preparing the food during the demo.

Check out these food demonstration guides from Arizona Nutrition Network and Kansas Rural Center, which give great tips for demos, as well as some necessary food safety and sanitation guidelines and an example evaluation form to help you plan your next demo! Schedule a food demo at your market and encourage customers to buy new and different food!