Monday, July 23, 2012

EBT/Foodstamp incentive at the Newark Valley Farmer's Market

The Newark Valley Farmers Market is in full swing. Produce is flowing in like crazy and we are excited to be bringing local products to the community.

Fresh Connect $2.00 coupon for EBT/Foodstamp users
As you all know we received the Fresh Connect Grant from Governor Cuomo to help cover costs to start up the market. With that comes an EBT incentive program that gives the EBT/Foodstamp customer extra money for free to spend at the market. For every $5 worth of tokens you receive $2.00 Fresh Connect coupon.

If you don't all know about the EBT/Foodstamps and how that works at a farmers market it is quite simple. The market itself has a machine just like a credit card machine and tokens that are provided through the NYS Department of Agriculture ad Markets. It is a program that the vendors have to sign participation agreements that allows all of us to except them.

What you would do is come to the very first tent by the Sidewalk closest to Main St intersection and you would tell me how much you would like off of your EBT/Foodstamp card. I then swipe the card just like I would in a regular grocery store. You enter your pin number and then however much you want off the card I give you in $1 tokens. These tokens can be spent with any vendor that you are purchasing EBT/Foodstamp approved food from. Such as Breads, fruits, vegetables, honey, meats, eggs....and so on. The same as the grocery store. No products that are not food related. If you do not spend all of your tokens you can bring them back to me and get the money put back on the card, or you can save them and spend them at the next weeks markets. You do need to spend them by the end of the season at the market which is October.

Those vendors would then at the end of the market bring the tokens back to me and they get paid through the Farmer's Market account. Which is all tied together with the NYS Agriculture and Markets program.

This program has been created to help initiate EBT/Foodstamp customers in receiving great quality local produce as well.

The farmers market also excepts the "Farmer's Market Nutrition Program" Checks. Also known as WIC checks. They are given out to Seniors as well as women participating in the WIC program. Generally you receive $24 dollars worth I believe per family to be spent at a participating farmers market on Fresh fruits and vegetables only. You have until the end of the market season to use them.

If you participate in WIC or are a senior make sure you contact them to ask about these Farmer's Market Nutrition Checks and tell them that you want them.

 I also figured I would give you a picture update on what is at the market lately!
Anura Liquid Soaps
West Creek Family Farm

Skretta Farms
Providence Farm

Eric Jr from Cross Creek Farm eating a juicy PA Peach.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blueberries, Blackberries, Peaches...Oh my!

The fruit is finally starting to roll in.

As we all know the weather has been outrageously ridiculous this year! With the early warmth and the late frost that we got we were nervous about how fruit was going to be this year.

There were some reports that stated that 100% of the cherries in NY were destroyed, 100% of the peaches in NY were destroyed. Apples were scarce and many of the other fruits were going to be very minimal.

Of course the year that we get ready to launch a kitchen and try to go big with our fruit butters is the year that the fruit crop is damaged.

Well we immediately spoke with our Cornell Orchards people to see what was going on with their crop. As of 2 years ago that is where we were getting 90% of our fruit from. Speaking with them we found that we would not be able to get our peaches, plums or cherries from them. We would not receive our Paw-Paws and Kiwis that we normally get.

But they were going to start picking berries that they had never sold to us before. Blueberries, Black Raspberries, Red Raspberries, Blackberries and more.

We have had the Blueberries for a couple of weeks now as well as the black raspberries. The Red Raspberries and Blackberries we just got this week.  The blackberries are HUGE!!!

Hopefully next week we will be able to get the Doughnut Peaches that everyone loves so much. They just missed that last frost so we are lucky to be getting those!

Don't get me wrong, this season is still going to be hard for us to find the other fruits that we were hoping to get to make the fruit butters with. We had planned on making a Peach butter and we wanted to bring back our Cherry butter but those were the hardest hit fruits. So we were not able to do the Cherry butter at all, but we did find a peach source in PA.

Some may ask and have asked why we don't just buy "Washington Cherries" to make our Cherry butter with. Well the answer to that is a simple one. We only use local fruit. Local fruit by definition is 100 mile radius from our farm.

This is an important thing to us. Buying locally means keeping the money local. Buying from elsewhere would make it easier from a business perspective because we never really have to worry about not having a source for our fruit.

I guess to some it isn't smart to use ONLY local fruit. But what would make us different? What would make us stand out and make people more apt to buy our fruit butter or jam than the other 15 different kinds?

So this year we are working on getting some other sources that will be able to keep up with our load of fruits that we need.

As of right now we have put 300 + lbs of Blueberries in the freezer as well as black raspberries and will continue to add to that.

The kitchen is still underway we have hit a few snags along the way. Nothing major just having to "hurry up and wait." We are hoping to get rolling on things again this week. We shall see.

For now we will keep plugging along and wait for things to finish.