Who Are We?
We are the the Portland (Maine) Farmers' Market. We are a twice weekly, year round farmers' market in Maine that provides the Portland community with a diverse array of fantastic local foods, plants, and flowers. If you can grow it in Maine, you'll find it at our market!
The market has been operating continuously since 1768! A lot has changed over the years and we are proud to continue the legacy of our predecessors. One recent change was the addition of our Market Information Booth last year. This Booth will serve the customers of our market in many different and exciting ways in the future. The first project that has come out of the Info Booth is our Wooden Token Program.
What Is The Token Program?
In 2011, with support from Healthy Portland (the City of Portland) and Cultivating Community, we began a grant funded pilot program to break down the barriers keeping Portland area SNAP (or Food Stamp) recipients from accessing fresh, healthy, local foods. This market wide SNAP system allows low income individuals and families to use their food stamp benefits to buy locally grown seedlings, produce, fruits, meats, dairy products, and honey at the Portland Farmers' Markets.
Here's how the program works:
1) Buy Tokens: Customers can purchase wooden tokens at the Market Information Booth, which is centrally located at each of our market locations. Tokens can be purchased in any amount. There are also tokens available for Debit and Credit customers.
2) Find a Participating Farmer: Customers look for our green signs on each participating farmers' booth that read "Market Money Tokens Accepted Here". 95% of our farms participate in this program, so they're easy to find! Customers can then use their wooden tokens to purchase eligible foods items including food bearing plants & seedlings.
3) Buy Local Food! Once a selection is made, the farmer can be paid with wooden tokens. If the total is greater than or less than the token's value, a small item can be added or the difference can be paid in cash. There is no cash change given back for SNAP purchases. (Debit/Credit token purchases may receive cash change back) Farmers are then reimbursed for the tokens they received.
Has The Program Worked?
The Token Program has been wicked successful! After 3 months, SNAP customers had used their Food Stamp benefits to purchase over $15,000 worth of locally produced foods directly from the farmer. Now, after 12 months, food stamp customers fed themselves and their families with over $50,000 worth of local foods all purchased at the Portland Farmers' Market! Prior to this program, only a handful of farmers at our market were able to accept Food Stamps (or debit/credit). The Program has provided greater access to the entire Farmers' Market and has increased sales for the farmers- its a Win-Win!
Why Do We Need Your Help?
We are approaching a funding gap. At the end of August, we will no longer have access to the grant money we were depending on to get us through one more year of funding for this program. We (the farmers) had planned to spend this coming Fall/Winter collectively developing a sustainable model that will maintain the Market Information Booth and the Wooden Token Program long term. After finding out that the grant money had fallen through, we decided to reach out to our community for support.
What Will We Use The Money For?
We are raising funds that will cover one year of staffing for the Info Booth and supplies for the Token Program. This one year of funding will allow us to continue the Token Program, work on a long term funding plan, and work on launching additional services to our customers through the Info Booth that have never existing at the market (such as coordinating volunteer opportunities, offering cooking demonstrations, market tours, market information, etc.).
The money you donate will help us continue to create better access to locally grown foods in addition to developing new programs at the market to help educate about and promote the benefits of shopping at the farmers' market.
What Will You Receive In Return?
To show our gratitude, we have some great gifts to offer to you in return for your donation.
I Want To Help But Can't Afford To Contribute, What Else Can I Do?
Help us get the word out! Share a link to our Campaign with friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers! We want to reach as many people as possible, and your with your help we will reach our goal! Remember, we will also be accepting donations at the Farmers' Market, so you can send people to us in person too!
To Learn More or To Contact Us:
Send us an email at PortlandMaineFarmersMarket@gmail.com
Thank you, thank you ,thank you!! To all of our customers and supporters, we are grateful for you and the difference you are making in our community by supporting your farmers' market!
**Special thanks to Aric Jackson for shooting and editing our pitch video! Thank you Aric!!!**