9, 2004: "Grown locally by family farmers"
was the first choice of more than 75 percent of consumers
in an Internet survey. The Leopold Center for Sustainable
Agriculture in Iowa has tested prototypes for food ecolabels
- seals or logos indicating that a product has met a certain
set of environmental and/or social standards. The study found
that the term locally grown, when combined with family farmers,
appears to be a powerful marketing message.
No wonder New York City's Greenmarket Farmers Market is such
a success. In a couple of decades a project begun as a once-a-week
market at Union Square in Manhattan is now an agency with
42 markets in 31 locations throughout New York City. At least
20 of the markets operate year round; the flagship market
in Union Square now operates four days a week, and 1/3 of
markets are in low income areas where malnutrition and obesity
Last week, Tom Strumolo, Greenmarket's director, spoke to
the Second Annual Local Food event sponsored by the Toronto
Food Policy Council and Caledon Countryside Alliance. He described
Greenmarket as a unique service to New York City, both in
structure and accomplishment. Those accomplishments
- Fresh food for a quarter million customers per week during
the peak season;
- A nutrition program for low income families worth almost
a million dollars per year;
- Over 105 restaurants supplied with fresh ingredients
- Student educational tours three days a week;
- Donation of 500,000 pounds of unsold food to food banks
- 20,000 acres of farmland close to the city kept in production;
- a group of family farmers succeeding in spite of globalization.
The Greenmarket structure is unique. It is a program of the
Council on the Environment of New York City, a privately funded
citizens organization in the Mayor's Office. Greenmarket trains
market managers. For the farmers, staff takes care of the
nitty-gritty details of approvals for new sites, relationships
with community boards, weekly advertising, publicity events
and arrangements for accepting credit cards, food stamps and
Most significantly Greenmarket has branded their markets
as "locally grown by family farmers." Middlemen,
resellers or brokers are thus excluded from their 42 markets.
With few exceptions, all items must be grown, raised, foraged,
caught, or otherwise produced by the seller. Greenmarket staff
members routinely visit and work with the farmers to improve
displays, identify new ethnic crops and to make sure that
what they sell at market is grown or raised on their farms.
Greenmarket Farmers Market in New York City is an economic
success -- proof that locally grown by family farmers is a
powerful marketing message. __________
"Ecolabel Value Assessment: Consumer and Food Business
Perceptions of Local Foods," can be found on the website
of the Leopold Centre: www.leopold.iastate.edu/pubinfo/
For information on the Second Annual Local Food Event visit:
For more information about Greenmarkets Farmers Market visit:
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