Monthly Archives: February 2014

Farmers’ Market Incentive Programs

By Catherine Hallet, Dietetic Intern, Farm to Fork

Farmers’ market incentive programs, such as Market Match in California and Double Up Food Bucks in Michigan, help low-income consumers access fresh fruits and vegetables at a reasonable cost.  While each program varies slightly, they offer individuals extra money to purchase produce from local farmers when they utilize their SNAP benefits at farmers’ markets.  For example, in California, Market Match provides “customers an extra $5 when they spend at least $10 on their CalFresh cards”(1).  Market Match and other incentive programs provide a “win-win” for the community – not only can individuals receive more produce for their dollar, they stimulate the economy and support their local farmers.

Despite only being introduced a couple years ago, farmers’ market incentive programs have been quite successful.  According to Market Match, “CalFresh redemption at local farmers’ markets [has increased] by over 650%”.  Furthermore, CalFresh participants reported an increase in fruit and vegetable intake (1).  In Michigan, not only did produce consumption increase, “83% of farmers say they make more money” (2,3).  With its quick success, farmers’ market incentive programs show promise as a possible method for communities to promote access and consumption of fresh produce. Congress has recognized this potential and allocated up to $20 million to support such programs in the 2014 Farm Bill.

140 Farmers’ Markets in California participated in the Market Match program in 2013 (4). Check out some of the California farmers’ markets that offer Market Match here:

For information on other Farmers’ Market Incentive programs for low-income Californians, check out the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (administered by CDFA) and the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (administered by CDPH).

Works Cited

(1) Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association.” Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2014. <>.

(2) Double Up Food Bucks. Healthy Food Incentives Work. N.p.: Double Up Food Bucks, n.d. Home. Web. 07 Feb. 2014. <>.

(3) Partners.” Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2014. <>.

(4) The Ecology Center,

School Gardens are Growing in Pittsburg

 School Gardens are Growing in Pittsburg

Back in September, Ms. Ramirez and her second graders at Willow Cove Elementary School in Pittsburg, CA started a garden with just a handful of seeds.  They have been watering and weeding the garden all year, and were rewarded with their very first harvest this week. The students began their morning each naming their favorite vegetable – favorites that ranged from carrots to lettuce to broccoli. Then each student donned gardening gloves and pulled up the carrots, beets, and lettuce they’ve been watching grow. The students marveled at the results, especially the carrots which ranged from white to purple to the typical orange. After everyone had a handful of vegetables, they proudly marched them to the school cafeteria where the vegetables were washed and sliced.

Pittsburg garden 1

Then came the taste test.  Everyone got a few slices of carrots, a beet slice, and some lettuce leaves. The carrots were the biggest hit – the consensus being that the different colors carrots all tasted more or less the same – but the lettuce and beets disappeared quickly as well (much faster than you’d expect from a group of second graders). Luckily for the rest of the school, the extra vegetables were chopped up and served for lunch as part of the school’s salad bar.

Pittsburg garden 2

School gardens like the one Ms. Ramirez and her class have so dutifully tended teach our children about where their food comes from and open them up to trying fruits and vegetables that might otherwise be snubbed by an eight year old.  The Farm to Fork office is excited to hear that Matthew Belasco, the Director of Child Nutrition Services at Pittsburg Unified, is helping more teachers follow in Ms. Ramirez’s footsteps by installing gardens in more Pittsburg schools.