FreshFarm Markets: Food Fighters

| November 22, 2011

The Food Fighters series is made up of M@M’s journeys across the U.S., and her home city of Washington, D.C.,  where she is visiting as many organizations that work on issues related to food equity and justice as she possibly can.  She is seeking to examine places that focus on production of food, distribution of product and nutritional/cooking education surrounding that produce, particularly to low income populations.  Food Fighters’ features will highlight both individual organizations as well as look at the local food systems as a whole within cities across America.  This is the fourth piece in the series.

Is there something so much a part of your life that you can’t quite remember how it even came to be? That’s the way I feel about FreshFarm Markets, an organization that operates 11 farmer’s markets throughout the DC region. I certainly remember stopping in at their Dupont Circle market, the founding and largest of all their markets established in 1997 (as one of the directors likes to say, “before people even knew they wanted local produce”), early on in its existence. And I can remember various opportunities when I volunteered to help out at special events. Still, there’s not one moment I remember about how I became intertwined with them or a particular thought I had when I knew I wanted to become involved with their endeavors. FreshFarm just seems to be a part of me now, a given in my life, something that just is and naturally should be. 

If you’ve read my series, Melissa@Market, you know I regularly do demonstrations at various FreshFarm Markets showing people how to utilize the fresh produce sold there. In addition, I also volunteer with numerous projects they run periodically. That’s what I really love about FreshFarm. It wasn’t enough for their founders, Ann Yonkers and Bernie Prince, to support local farmers and give people access to fresh, local foods by setting up markets all over the city which sell only producer-based goods (meaning farmers can only sell what they grow, not resell others’ produce). In addition to this, they have continued to grow their outreach projects trying to encompass more populations with nourishing, farm fresh food.

In addition to serving over 360,000 shoppers a year and supporting over 150 local farmers, FreshFarm has also initiated these community programs over the years.








picture courtesy of Jennifer Mampara



FoodPrints is a school curriculum and garden program started by FreshFarm in 2005. Originally piloted at 6 DC Public Schools in 2005, the program has been refined each year. In its current form, the FoodPrints curriculum addresses Core Curriculum standards while teaching children about fresh, healthy food. This year, Watkins Elementary School in Southeast DC was able to add a teaching kitchen to their school garden and FoodPrints program by way of a Kickstarter campaign that helped FreshFarm raise $60,000. This kitchen is used by 3rd and 4th graders to turn the food they grow into nutritious dishes they can enjoy. FreshFarm hopes the FoodPrint curriculum and garden/teaching kitchen model can be implemented in more DC Public Schools soon.

DOUBLE DOLLARS, SNAP and other Nutritional Assistance Programs

Each year, FreshFarm has expanded the number of markets with the capacity to use EBT machines to process SNAP (food stamps) dollars as well as WIC and the Senior Supplemental Assistance programs. Six of their markets now have the capacity to accept those shoppers relying on federal assistance dollars and help them purchase healthier foods. In addition, FreshFarm conducts a yearly campaign with its supporters called “Double Dollars” to raise enough money to match those federal funds, so that SNAP shoppers can spend twice as much on produce at the market.


Finally, FreshFarm coordinates with market farmers and various local non-profit soup kitchens and food banks to “glean” (collect) leftover produce after market closing. This year, multiple markets also participated in a one-day, Thanksgiving food drive that collected monetary and food donations from the community to benefit local hunger organizations. As of this writing, 4 of the participating markets had collected a total of about $4000 in food and monetary donations to be used to feed those in need for the holidays.


To learn more about FreshFarm Markets and all they do, please visit their website here.  Please feel free to share how your local farmer’s markets are effecting your community in the comment section below!

To read more about the Food Fighters tour, follow @FoodFightersUS on twitter, like us on Facebook or visit the FF blog here.


Category: Featured, Food Fighters, Kids & Food

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  1. Peggy says:

    What a great write-up! I hope that Louisville can take note of what’s going on in big cities like D.C. – I’d definitely love to help get something started here =)

  2. Belinda says:

    Wow. I kinda wish I was back in DC – what a great kitchen! I can see why this is close to your heart!