Archive for category: Farmers’ Market

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust helps to address food insecurity in our community.

By Emily Swan, President, Board of Directors

Last Friday’s Times Record included an excellent article about BTLT’s use of the Harvest Bucks program, designed to boost SNAP recipients’ access to healthy foods, at the Crystal Spring Farm market.   It also appeared in the Press Herald. Click the logos below to read the article.

As in so many areas, BTLT’s efforts to connect SNAP recipients with healthy, nutritious, locally produced food involve collaboration with other community groups.  One example is our partnership with Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program to raise food at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden for food-insecure people in our community.  Another is our collaboration with Curtis Memorial Library to get more SNAP beneficiaries out to the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm.  In pursuit of that goal, the Library is sponsoring market tours, one of which took place this past Saturday.

I was the BTLT representative in the market booth during Saturday’s market tour (described in the articles mentioned above).  Although there were only two ladies on the tour, I know market manager Jacqui Koopman shares my belief that it was a moving, transformational, and joyous event, one that I hope will be repeated with other SNAP recipients during the course of the market season.

One of the ladies on the tour was hard of hearing, and it took her a while to grasp the fact that her $20 EBT investment would be matched by $20 worth of Harvest Bucks.   She asked incredulously whether the match would be available each time she came to the market and not just this once, and when I told her it was, her face positively lit up.  Jacqui then led the ladies from booth to booth, introducing them to vendors and the food choices each offered.  Both proved to be culinarily adventurous and came away with a fabulous assortment of fresh foods.

I think these tours are really the way to help interested SNAP recipients pass the hurdle of the unknown.  Now that they know what the market – and the Harvest Bucks program – have to offer, I have no doubt the ladies on yesterday’s tour will be back many times.   I hope we are able to introduce many more SNAP recipients to our wonderful market in the coming months.

Jacqui and I agreed that yesterday was one of the most rewarding days we had ever had at the market, and we look forward to introducing more.

Community Support at the Farmers’ Market

A farmers’ market means something different to each of us, for many that attend it is a place where environmental care, local economies, small business support, health and community merge into one ethos.  A place where the desire to nourish our bodies with the freshest, most conscientiously produced, nutrient dense foods are purveyed in an atmosphere that is faintly festive and raises our spirits. We bring this food home, we cook it together, we serve it to those we love and we repeat week after week for long, healthy lives.  Is this not what food is? An integral piece of our lives, essential to living?

Unfortunately, for many this is not the norm. Getting food on the table, especially healthy food, can be extremely difficult.  Through the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm, the Land Trust has been working to increase access to healthy foods for food-insecure families.  BTLT partakes in the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets, SNAP incentive program, which doubles the value of SNAP dollars spent on local healthy foods. SNAP recipients visit the info booth at the Farmers’ Market where they swipe their SNAP cards in exchange for Harvest Buck vouchers and for every dollar they convert to Harvest Bucks, they receive a second voucher, doubling their spending capacity and increasing the amount of healthy food they are able to purchase.  

These programs are becoming increasingly more common but they are just one step, in just one solution, to addressing food insecurity.  BTLT, though its work with the Merrymeeting Food Council, conducted a region-wide assessment to learn from community members what barriers they face when accessing food.  Repeated over and over again was a lack of access to transportation, feeling as if they “don’t belong” and the shame they face each time the use of a WIC voucher or SNAP card slows the line at the cash register.

The Market, understanding these concerns, is offering market tours this summer in partnership with Curtis Memorial Library and SNAP-Ed.  The goal is to make coming to the market a little less daunting for first-time visitors, especially those who feel like they may not belong.  In the past, we have offered free taxi rides to the market trying to make it easier for folks who do not have transportation, or need to consider gasoline costs every time they leave their home.

These sorts of thoughtful methods increasing accessibility to the best foods and enabling more people to participate in the thriving community that exists at the Farmers’ Market are much needed and much appreciated by the individuals that have come to rely on them.   WIC parents are able to purchase fruit that their children love, without which they would be unable to afford.

This generosity, desire to be inclusive and community problem solving is what makes the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market; its vendors, volunteers, and shoppers so incredibly valuable.  We as a community invite everyone to join us this season, in the Market’s 20th year.

Poster Contest Winner!

Thank you to all of the artists who submitted their work for the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market Poster Contest. We are impressed with the work you submitted and so grateful that you took the time to create these wonderful pieces of art for the Farmers’ Market!

The winning piece was created by Alessia McCobb of Sound Pine Farm and ties together the Farmers’ Market’s 20th anniversary and the wide variety of vendors at our vibrant market. Congratulations, Alessia!

Artwork by Alessia McCobb, Sound Pine Farm

Thank you to all of our contestants.

We can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with next year!

Thank you for another great season at the Market!

Thank you to our 41 Market Vendors for another extraordinary market season! 

This year, people from all over the country visited the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market. Over 20,000 cars passed through our parking lot from May through October and we saw cars from as far away as Alaska, Texas and Wyoming.

In the press, Down East Magazine named our market the Best Farmers Market in Maine, Sandy Stott wrote about his experience on the farm trails and at the market for  The Times Record, and Mary Pols wrote about dog life at the market for The Portland Press Herald.

At the Land Trust booth, we took in 58 new Land Trust memberships, completed 132 EBT transactions and welcomed 14 new EBT customers.

The Farmers’ Market has become a community within our community.  Next year we hope you’ll join us to celebrate this community’s 20th year. See you on May 4th!

In the meantime, keep your excitement for the Market alive with our Farmers’ Market Poster Contest! Click here to learn more.

No Dog Policy begins this Saturday

Please remember that the no dog policy at the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm begins this Saturday, October 6.

The Farmers’ Market struggled with the challenges of having dogs at the market for years and with amplified popularity of our beloved market, more challenges and concerns recently surfaced.  In the best interest of our visitors and to provide a safe, positive community space, BTLT board and staff found it necessary to adopt this policy. Since making that difficult decision in August, we have been notifying Farmers’ Market visitors, our membership, and our social media followers of this change in the hopes of easing the transition.

Leashed dogs are still welcome on Crystal Spring Farm trails and many other BTLT trails. Please see our trail map of Crystal Spring Farm by visiting this link: https://www.btlt.org/land-trust-trails-crystal-spring-farm.

Thank you for your support and cooperation.

 

BTLT in the News, “These little doggies will not be going to market”

“These little doggies will not be going to market”

September 9, 2018

Mary Pols wrote a well-balanced piece featured in The Source on Sunday, September 9 on the new dog policy at the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm.

One Monday morning this summer, Jacqui Koopman, the manager of the wildly popular Saturday morning market at Crystal Spring Farm, walked into her office and announced she’d had it.

Maybe it was the pooping that pushed her over the edge. Possibly the peeing. Lunging and snarling were also a problem.

“We have got to have a dog policy,” Koopman says she told her colleagues at the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, which runs the seasonal outdoor market. From her official vantage point at the market, standing behind a table in the middle of a rectangle of booths manned by oyster and vegetable farmers, cheesemakers, spice merchants, coffee roasters and bakers, she’d seen every manner of bad behavior, both from the four-legged attendees who lifted their legs on everything from tablecloths to coolers to the booths, and from the humans at the other end of their leashes.

Just the week before, as the market drew to a close, she said a co-worker called her attention to “a giant pile of dog poop” left in the middle of the market. A paper bag was lying next to it, as if signaling a right intention undermined by the wrong material.

Starting October 6, all dogs but those belonging to vendors will be banned from the market at Crystal Spring, which according to the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets, is believed to be the first outdoor market of the approximately 120 in the state to say no to dogs.

“I am not aware of any that prohibit customers from bringing dogs,” said Hanne Tierney, the chair of the federation’s board, as well as the chairman of farmers markets in Portland and Waterville.

But there is certainly debate. Tierney said in an email that customer surveys show that people “feel strongly on both sides of the issue.”

In Brunswick, the issue has been discussed before. “For 19 years,” Angela Twitchell, the executive director of the land trust, said ruefully. “As long as the market has been there (at Crystal Spring).” They’ve tried signage, outlining the rules – including leashes and keeping your dog out of the vendors’ booths – and gentle in-person persuasion.

“We have talked to people about it,” Twitchell said. “We have had board members and volunteers at the market handing out little cards when we have seen misbehaving dogs and owners.”

But between dog “quarrels” as the land trust sweetly describes it, small children being scared by big dogs and the issue of defecation and urination – along with related food safety issues – the market, which is overseen by 19 board members, felt the tipping point was reached this summer.

“It was getting worse,” Twitchell said. “The board felt it was becoming a safety concern.”

To read the full story, click here.