Farmer's Markets and The People's Garden
The Obama administration has tasked federal agencies with encouraging a culture of wellness and improving options for healthy food in the workplace, such as making fresh fruits and vegetables readily available. This effort also places a high priority on using sustainable vendors and locally grown foods. In response to this, GSA is assisting its federal partners and customer agencies with housing farmer’s markets and gardens on their property.
Why Farmer’s Markets?
Farmer’s markets are a great way to accomplish the aims of the federal healthy food initiative. By offering a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and more, the markets bring healthy local food to communities across the nation.
Because of their central urban locations, federal buildings are excellent settings for these markets. GSA has been pursuing sustainable options in the federal workplace since the 1970s, so the federal healthy food initiative fits in well with established GSA goals.
Benefits of Farmer’s Markets
Farmer’s markets aren’t just about providing fresh, locally grown foods. A market on federal property can:
- Revitalize a neighborhood
- Strengthen a community
- Improve the local economy
- Supplement farm income for local growers
- Contribute to the government’s effort to combat obesity
In recent years, customer demand for locally grown and fresh foods has risen dramatically. More than 4,900 farmer’s markets are now operating in the United States – an increase from 1,500 just 15 years ago.
For Building Managers
Managers of federal buildings interested in bringing a market to their property can find great information from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
AMS has joined with GSA to prepare a guide to Opening a Farmer’s Market on Federal Property. The guide lists further benefits of housing a market on federal property as well as important considerations such as security, insurance, and permits.
For Farmer’s Market Operators
Operators of farmer’s markets should also refer to the Farmer’s Market guide to learn more about finding a spot at a federal building. The first step is to contact the manager of the local building. Contacts for all GSA buildings can be found on gsa.gov.
The People’s Garden
The People’s Garden Initiative, established in 2009 by the USDA, is another effort to give people greater access to fruits and vegetables and to promote sustainable agriculture and healthy lifestyles. People’s Gardens are centered around community. They are a collaboration between volunteers, neighbors, and other community leaders, and they benefit the community while also incorporating sustainable food practices.
There are currently 124 People’s Gardens run by USDA across the nation. Visit the page on USDA.gov for more information on finding a local garden or starting a new one.