Farmers’ markets, companies working to get healthy food to Butler County families

Oxford Farmers Market Uptown in Oxford. COX MEDIA GROUP
Caption
Oxford Farmers Market Uptown in Oxford. COX MEDIA GROUP

Credit: Nick Daggy

Credit: Nick Daggy

Area farmers are reaching out to new and non-traditional customers during the coronavirus pandemic, working to put fresh produce on the tables of people who have trouble affording healthy food.

The Oxford Farmers Market is a leader in the area, and others are following. Hamilton-based 80 Acres Farms is moving toward accepting SNAP payments (formerly known as food stamps) for its foods, and Hamilton’s Historic Farmer’s Market also hopes to do so, in part so people from neighborhoods close to the historic Butler County Courthouse that lack grocery stores can get fresh fruits and vegetables.

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The Oxford market is reaching out in multiple ways.

  • Merchants accept Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) payments, such as SNAP, but also pandemic relief benefits for families whose children qualify for free or reduced meals. “A lot of people have received these cards with money on them that never have participated in an EBT program or SNAP in the past,” said the market’s manager, Ross Olson.
  • In a related program called Produce Perks, for every dollar someone spends on qualifying foods, they reduce another dollar worth of food for free.
  • Senior citizens 60 and older can participate in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program through the market with $50 booklets of $5 vouchers to use at the market. He encourages anyone that age or older to apply for it with simple applications that can be filled out at the market or on its website. Vouchers should be available in a couple weeks. “So, we pay our farmers to give food away,” Olson said.
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“We also have an e-commerce platform that we started this year, really in response to concerns about market operations and COVID,” he said. “We had been looking into doing that prior to anything happening with the pandemic, and sort-of tabled that plan due to lack funding and not being fully committed to it yet. And then COVID came, and we received a grant from (Oxford Community Foundation) to fund the e-commerce.”

“In fact, we went ahead and decided to go for it, and commit to e-commerce, before even finding out about that grant,” he said.

The e-commerce link can be found at the farmers market’s website, oxfordfarmersmarket.com . It allows people to order throughout the week and pick up orders at the Tuesday market location. Several artisans and others (including Chubby Bunny Bakery) who have been at the market in the past are on the e-commerce site.

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Oxford Farmers Market

The Oxford Farmers Market happens two days a week, in two locations:

  • Tuesdays from 4-7 p.m. at 550 S. Locust St. the parking lot in front of the TJ Maxx shopping center;
  • Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon in the Uptown Park, in the block between High and Church streets, near Main Street.