[Homestead] here ya go, Gene - it's a "positive" - I think ?
tonihawr at msn.com
Sat Sep 18 21:38:45 EDT 2004
WEEKLY FOOD & FARM: Farmers' markets want government to help with repairs
By MALIA RULON
WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 - Bill and Vickie Thomas find in Columbus, Ohio, what they never will see at their farm: a million potential customers a year at the North Market, a farmers' market. It's that traffic level that has allowed them to hold on to their family farm.
''It gives us a so-called store where there's lots of people,'' said Thomas, who grows apples, peaches, plums and blueberries in Philo, about an hour east of Columbus.
''When you sit ... at the farm and wait for them to come, it just doesn't happen,'' he said. ''Farmers' markets are what's keeping small farmers alive.''
The number of such markets nationwide grew 79 percent between 1994 and 2002, and more than 3,100 are in business now, the Agriculture Department says.
Some are more than 100 years old and in need of repair. Federal money to do that or construct new markets is now available to cities with fewer than 50,000 people.
Elsewhere, many farmers, market owners and larger cities say they are too cash-strapped to do needed repairs on their own.
Ron Paul is leading an effort in Portland, Ore., to build a year-round indoor market. He said a seasonal farmers' market has thrived in the city for 10 years. Community leaders want to build a permanent bazaar that could offer a variety of items related to food, from fresh produce to cooking utensils.
Paul estimates about $15 million would be required to complete work so a public market could move into a renovated historic building. ''We are just absolutely crying for an increase in federal assistance for this,'' he said.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, wants the next major farm bill, which Congress will write in 2006, to include a new program that would provide up to $50 million a year to build new farmers' markets and refurbish older ones.
''The survival of family farmers in our country is going to depend on their ability to market to the consumers, most of which live in the suburbs and cities,'' Kaptur said. The former urban planner is the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations agriculture subcommittee.
Donita Anderson has started four markets in the Cleveland area since 1995 and says she has requests from 25 other Ohio cities that want to open them. ''Our farmers sell out everywhere they go,'' she said.
Other directors of farmers' markets say federal help is needed to revitalize older markets, some of which are in decaying urban areas.
''On the outside, our market looks really nice, but on the inside, it really has a lot of things that need to be done like pipes and roof repairs,'' said Eileen Nowak, president of the board of directors for the Broadway Farmers Market in Buffalo, N.Y.
The 116-year-old market in a poor neighborhood attracts 300,000 people during the two weeks leading up to Easter. Nowak envisions the market becoming a bustling attraction during the rest of the year.
''We feel that without the market thriving, the neighborhood won't thrive,'' she said. ''We've got so much potential, but unfortunately money is an issue.''
Dan Madigan, executive director of the Farmers Market Association of Toledo, Ohio, said his annual budget for operating expenses, advertising and repairs comes from the $400-a-year rental fee it charges 50 members. That leaves no money for upgrades.
''We want to install radiant heating to allow the farmers to continue selling through the winter'' in the 172-year-old market, Madigan said. ''We also have some plans in place to change the market configuration and ease parking concerns, but right now there isn't the resources.''
On the Net:
Agriculture Department background: <>http://www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/<http://www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/>
© 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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