Planning for a Community Supported Farmers Market in a Rural USDA Food Desert
A community initiative to develop and sustain a farmer’s market can address insufficient access to fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables for individuals working and residing in a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated food desert. This project addressed a particular USDA food desert in South Wood County, Wisconsin. The purpose of this project was to develop and plan for implementation and evaluation of a community-supported farmers market in South Wood County, with the goal to increase access to fruits and vegetables. Project objectives included development of a sustainable community infrastructure to support the market, development of policies and guidelines for creation and sustainment of the market, and development of implementation and evaluation plans for the overall market initiative. In collaboration with an interdisciplinary project team of community stakeholders, the above objectives were met and necessary products and plans were developed to direct the initiative over a 5-year period, with long-term evaluation planning extending to 10 years. The plan has been validated by external scholars with content expertise in the area, approved by the project team, and formally endorsed and approved by the Wood County Health Department. The market initiative has been approved for establishment in the community for the 2015 market season. Rooted in the socioecological model, a community supported farmers market can be a key catalyst for positive social change by improving the health of underserved populations who lack access to fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables. By using existing evidence relevant to the population’s needs, the market will address disparities surrounding food access and affordability in a rural community affected by food desert conditions.