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Fresh from the Library: Organic Foods

by on April 13, 2016

Looking for organic, non-GMO produce and other foods? If you live in New Port Richey, Fla., look no farther than your local library!

You can find the Tasty Tuesdays farmers market in the New Port Richey Public Library courtyard from ten in the morning to noon every Tuesday, rain or shine. The market started with a serendipitous conversation between Assistant Library Director Ann Scott and two local organic micro-farmers. One of the farmers mentioned how great it would be to have a place for people to share recipes, growing tips, and actual produce. ​”Then it was just like one of those cartoon lightbulbs going off above our heads,” Scott said.[1]

With support from the library director and the city, Scott created a contract for market vendors that indemnifies the library and city and leaves the vendors responsible for following appropriate regulations for their products. The contract also specifies that vendors must use non-GMO seeds and organic materials. Some vendors also provide gluten-free and other allergy-free products.

The Tasty Tuesdays market also helps out those who need food the most. Through a grant from Florida Organic Growers, the market offers “Fresh Access Bucks” to customers using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Customers can double their ability to buy healthy food for their families by spending up to $10 of SNAP benefits to receive up to $20 in tokens to spend at the market.[2] The library then pays the vendors for the tokens accepted.

About twenty vendors are on hand every week, with more in the winter as the snowbirds come south. At first, vendors were asked to commit to attending the market weekly. “Now they come and go as they like, however many vendors are here rain or shine, all year long,” Scott said.[3]

Those vendors bring in about a hundred customers weekly, some who are library customers and some who are there just for the market. “What’s really interesting is watching library members’ curiosity grow as they venture in and out and begin exploring the event. The same goes for market attendees,” Scott said.[4]

The library promotes its other wellness programming and resources at the market, including an organic heirloom seed library, cooking classes, meditation, and yoga for kids, and has seen market customers become enthusiastic library members.


References:

[1] Ann Scott (assistant library director) in e-mail interview with the author, March 16, 2016.

[2]Fresh Access Bucks,” Florida Organic Growers [website], accessed March 18, 2016.

[3] Ann Scott (assistant library director) in e-mail interview with the author, March 16, 2016.

[4] Ibid.


Resources:

Tasty Tuesdays Community Market at NPR Library


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