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$79K grant awarded to promote Choo-choo Market

from staff reports

Brewton Mayor Yank Lovelace announced Tuesday that the city was among a few across the country awarded funding fro 2014 in the Farmers Market Promotion Program and will receive $79,332 in grant funding for advertising, training and other efforts to build the Choo-choo Farmers’ Market here.
“The farmers’ market has been a popular attraction here over the last year, but there were obvious needs in terms of recruiting vendors, adding entertainment and growing the market that this investment will pay for,” Lovelace said. “There is no local matdch required, so that is even better.”
Funding will help pay for billboard advertising, other multimedia promotions, a newsletter, training in USDA voucher programs, training for managers, flyers, t-shirts and live entertainment at the weekly market.
Choo-choo market launched in July 2013 and continues weekly in Jennings Park from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced the award of over $52 million in support of the growing organic industry and local and regional food systems through five U.S. Department of Agriculture grant programs.
The Secretary made the announcement during an event with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and local farmers at the Virginia State Fair.
“Local and regional food systems are one of the pillars of our efforts to revitalize rural economies, Vilsack said. “Consumers are increasingly demanding more local and organic options. Investing in local and regional food systems supports the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers, especially smaller operations, while strengthening economies in communities across the country. Today’s announcements also improve access to fresh, healthy food for millions of Americans.”
Most of the grants announced this week were authorized through Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill) including the Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) Farmers Market Promotion Progrma nd Local Food Promotion Program and the national Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Community Food Projects (CFP) grant program. Also announced were grants from AMS’s Federal-State Marketing Improvment Program. Together these investments represent USDAs commitment to strenthening organic and local and regional food systems through projects that recruit and train farmers, expand economic opportunities and increase access to healthy foods.
Brewton’s Choo-choo Farmers’ Market has grown to include locally-produced items including jams, jellies, preserves, pickles and a variety of other canned items in addition to baked goods. Also included are opportunities for artists and craftsmen to display and offer their creative items for sale during the weekly event as well, officials have said.
Certain rules and requirements must be met in order to be a participating vendor at the Saturday market day. Details on restrictions of items offered for sale are available at Brewton City Hall and information may be obtained by contacting Connie Baggett, programs manager for the City of Brewton, at 809-1777.
Brewton’s Choo-choo Farmers Market is held each Saturday at Jennings Park near downtown.