Wolfville Farmers’ Market Food Bucks Project Now Province-Wide
Thanks to a tremendous history of local support, this July the Wolfville Farmers’ Market will launch its Food Bucks program for the fourth consecutive year. The program’s success in past years has attracted the interest of many other market communities. With leadership from Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia and funding provided by Communities, Culture and Heritage Nova Scotia, the program will now be offered at five farmers’ markets across the province.
“Food Bucks” was a program originally researched and conceived by Acadia student Jessica Wall, who was personally involved in launching the first program in Nova Scotia at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market. In early years, the program was funded solely by local organizations and individuals who wanted to help community members experiencing food insecurity and social isolation. Significant support came from the Wolfville Community Fund, the Women of Wolfville theatre group, the Annapolis Valley Cider Company, and numerous market patrons. Local funders continue to make significant contributions to
this year’s program. “What I love most about this program,” says Kelly Marie Redcliffe, the Wolfville Farmers’ Market manager, “is that it is a connector, bringing together people who care about each other in a place where
we celebrate local food, producers, and community. We are able to bring resources to those in need without any stigma, rather with a joy of caring and community spirit that is what our market is all about.”
The five farmers’ markets participating in this pilot study are the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market, Windsor’s Avon Community Farmers’ Market, the Wolfville Farmers’ Market, the Truro Farmers’ Market, and the New Glasgow Farmers’ Market. “This is a fantastic opportunity to explore just how big of an impact a farmers’ market can have for its community,” says Justin Cantafio, executive director of Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia (FMNS) Cooperative. “Farmers’ markets are so much more than a once-a-week shopping destination. They’re social, cultural, and economic hubs and anchors in their communities.” Each market will work with partner charitable organizations to issue “food bucks,” an anonymous alternative currency that can be redeemed at any vendor stall at participating markets. Partner charities help identify participants who can benefit most from the program. The Wolfville Area Food Bank has been instrumental in playing this role locally.
As recently as 2014, over 15% of Nova Scotians experienced food insecurity, including 22% of children, and food bank use has been steadily increasing in Nova Scotia. A 2015 study found that Nova Scotia’s food insecurity rates were the highest in all of Canada, and seniors are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity, with 19.7% of Nova Scotian women over 65, and 14.7% of Nova Scotian men over 65, living in low-income households.