Local Nonprofit Continues to Give Back to the Community in a Big Way
At one time or another, everyone has found themselves at a Freshfarm farmers market stocking up on goods from the local nonprofit, whose farmer community generated nearly 11 million in revenue through markets in 2017, including nearly $100,000 in matching dollars to recipients of nutrition benefit programs, allowing them to double their spending power and bring home fresh fruits and vegetables to their families. Since opening in 1996, the mission has been to enhance the profits of local farmers by operating a producer-only business model, a growing trend in the farmers market world. Freshfarm aims to advance humanity by providing accessible knowledge about nutritional foods and healthy eating to the community.
“On a broad scale, Freshfarm is working to make sure that there’s fresh, local food available to the entire region across D.C., Maryland and Virginia,” Freshfarm Executive Director Julia Feder says. “Having healthy people and a healthy community is key to creating a great place to live, and we can’t have food without the farmers.”
The Farmer Fund was created in 2008 to provide the resources necessary for farmers to reach their full potential, opening the door to scholarships, zero interest loans, updated tools and gadgets, and certifications, going on to award $27,000 in grants to deserving farmers in 2015. Partnering with other organizations allows Freshfarm to expand their reach and connect with a broader audience. Together with DC Public Schools, they were able to introduce FootPrints, a program educating children about the benefits of healthy eating.
“The kids get so excited about eating kale and radishes, and we’re able to introduce them to foods they otherwise wouldn’t be interested in,” Julia says.
Through the program, they’re learning harvesting skills, cooking techniques, and, in 2016, caught the eye of former First Lady Michelle Obama, who paid a few Watkins Elementary FootPrints students a visit and explored the world of healthy eating. Freshfarm has 14 market locations throughout the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, each layered with locals selling goods that were grown right in the district’s backyard.