The Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) has joined forces with Cowtown Farmers Market and GROW North Texas to bring fresh, locally grown produce to Fort Worth. The markets are part of the TAFB Farmers Market Nutrition Program and will run until September. The Tarrant County Food Policy Council (TCFPC) also has a local food map that catalogs the places in Tarrant County where local products are grown and sold. Whether it's community gardens, retail gardens, farm stands, or farmers markets, food grown and sold in your neighborhood gives your community the power to address food insecurity and increase social capital by building a community, creating jobs, and increasing the availability of nutrient-rich, affordable, and culturally relevant foods.
The goal of neighborhood farmers markets is to provide access to fresh produce in areas where local grocery stores may be out of reach for families in need. This year, Neighborhood Farmers Market locations include the Dan Dipert Career+ Technical Center in Arlington; the Christian Lutheran Church and Grace Temple Adventist Church in Fort Worth; the Wisdom Center in Haltom City; and the Cowtown Farmers Market, in its usual location on the Weatherford roundabout, in west Fort Worth. For more information on local dining options in North Texas, see the TCFPC's “Local Food Map”. Farmers markets are open to the public and community members will be able to use WIC, FMNP and the Lone Star card coupons to purchase eligible items, as well as standard payment methods.
Organizations such as The Blue Zones Project (BZP), Healthy Tarrant County Collaboration, Grow Southeast and TCFPC are also working to close this gap. These organizations are dedicated to providing access to fresh produce for those who may not have access to it otherwise. The group also sells its products at local farmers markets and donates a portion to organizations such as the TAFB. The idea was born out of DeHart's frustration over political divisions in Tarrant County, which he describes as “everyone shouts at everyone and no one listens.” If these neighborhood farmers' markets are successful and provide a viable source of income for farmers, they may attract others to start growing produce to sell.
The Agricultural Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) offers coupons to buy fresh produce at authorized farmers markets to low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women and children between 1 and 5 years old. The TAFB operates the FMNP because neighborhood farmers' markets help close the gap between demand for farmers markets and the lack of accessibility among all communities. The Farmer's Market Movement is a powerful catalyst for change in Tarrant County. By providing access to fresh produce for those who may not have access otherwise, these markets are helping to reduce food insecurity while also creating jobs and increasing social capital.
Organizations such as The Blue Zones Project (BZP), Healthy Tarrant County Collaboration, Grow Southeast and TCFPC are working together to make sure that everyone has access to fresh produce. Additionally, the Agricultural Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides coupons for low-income families so they can purchase fresh produce at authorized farmers markets. With these initiatives in place, Tarrant County is well on its way towards becoming a healthier place for all.