Maine Harvest Bucks
MFFM administers the Maine Harvest Bucks program through the USDA FINI grant, at a network of farmers’ markets throughout the state of Maine. Known as a “Nutrition Incentive,” Maine Harvest Bucks increases the value of federal nutrition assistance dollars from programs like SNAP/EBT. When these benefits are spent at participating markets, MHB allows markets to offer shoppers bonus vouchers, good to spend on local produce at the market. This allows SNAP/EBT shoppers to get extra healthy, wholesome foods at no extra cost while helping local farmers grow their businesses. We are very passionate about this work!
Tiered under our low-income food access work are a variety of other helpful programs, available to shoppers and markets, such as:
Starting and Sustaining an EBT/SNAP Program at your Market
Maine has an innovative program that allows farmers to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer payments at your market. This can be done at a central location, with one EBT booth serving the entire market.
- Designate which individual/s will be responsible for EBT at the farmers’ market
- Apply to the USDA for an FNS number for the market
- Choose and order a device to use to process the EBT payments (and credit/debit payments, if desired)
- If not bundled with the device, choose a service provider, and set up the logistics (bank accounts for transferring funds, etc…)
- Set up an accounting system to track EBT payments and payments to farmers
- Market the SNAP program, and consider offering an incentive program of some kind to attract and support low-income shoppers
The USDA Food and Nutrition Service is dedicated to resolving EBT challenges and questions, and is making it more affordable for farmers’ markets to accept SNAP.Learn More About EBT/SNAP
Reduced Cost EBT Equipment
Operating a SNAP program at a farmers’ market is an important social service, but is often rather complicated and costly for the markets. We have developed a program to provide subsidized EBT equipment to Maine farmers through a program that is locally managed and privately funded, through a contract with a national service provider. By offering a local program, we can offer more technical support and faster turnaround time, as well as useful insight (such as what cellular phone providers serve which areas of the state) that will contribute to the success of the program at farmers’ markets and other sites.
To have surplus picked up at the end of market day at YOUR farmers’ market, why not start an End-of-Market Gleaning Program? An easy-to-implement program that provides an alternative to feeding your perfectly edible surpluses to your animals or compost pile.
Staff at your local County Extension Office working with their Maine Harvest for Hunger program are willing to set up a connection with local food pantries to pick up surplus from your farmers’ market at the end of each market day.Learn more about End-of-Market Gleaning
Bumper Crop: A Workplace Wellness Program
Promote healthy local food. Support Maine’s economy. Show appreciation for your employees. Through Bumper Crop, Maine employers provide gift vouchers to their employees to buy fresh, local food at farmers’ markets. These gift vouchers allow their employees to benefit from farmers’ market shopping. Shopping at markets is a great way to get high-quality food and support local farmers while having fun and connecting with community!
Visit Bumper Crop’s website for more details on how the program works and how to become a participating employer or market!
First published in August 2016, the trail is a website and printed brochure that highlights the 6 farmers’ markets of Washington County, each paired with a free, healthy outdoor activity. The brochure also features a detailed map of Washington County, including preserved land and parks. We hope that this project will encourage more families to explore the region, enjoying healthy, local food and sampling the wealth of free, outdoor recreational resources in the area. A new version of the map and website will be released in summer 2018, extending the trail as far down the coast as Bath. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get yourself a copy!
Selling Outdoors Email Newsletter
Selling Outdoors is MFFM’s digitally distrubuted farmers’ market newsletter and is issued about once a month. It contains tips for markets and market members, news and pictures from member markets, listings of upcoming events and workshops and much more. (Many of the articles on this website first appeared in Selling Outdoors.)
We want to hear your opinion! Send an editorial or essay or even a picture of your market. All submissions can be emailed to email@example.com.Subscribe to Selling Outdoors – It’s free!
Getting a Farmers’ Market Started
Many markets “start themselves” simply by a group of farmers and other food producers agreeing to come together to sell in the best spot they can find. Other markets begin with outside organization calling together a group of likely market members to begin selling together as a farmers’ market.
Most of the time either of these groups could use some assistance, especially at the outset. It is always a big help if a few experienced market members are among those in the initial group, but even when this is the case, a third party, or community partner organization with experience and reach can offer considerable aid in getting a new market off on the right foot.
MFFM has assisted beginning farmers’ markets in a variety of ways, including:
- Identifying potential locations for a new market
- Cultivating a network of community partners
- Encouraging vendor engagement in promotion and programming at market
- Outreach and recruitment of members
- Establishing the market as an entity (incorporation, insurance, licensing, bylaws, guidelines, etc.)
- Mediation and meeting facilitation
- Sharing and implementing best practices to build a customer base and rally your community around your market
MFFM also enjoys assisting in strengthening existing markets. Sometimes markets that have been around for a while experience growing pains, are having some degree of difficulty with their internal organization, find there are problems with their landlord or municipality, or for whatever reason would like some knowledgeable perspective from someone not directly involved with the market.
Staff and Board members from MFFM are available to talk with your market organizers and membership and visit your market or attend market meetings. While each market’s situation is unique, most bear some resemblance to situations that have occurred elsewhere in other markets. (Start learning more on this page.)
Maine Farmers’ Market Conventions Archive
The Maine Farmers’ Market Conventions are annual get-togethers of farmers’ market participants and workshop presenters held in late January. The first convention was organized in 2009 by the Downeast Business Alliance, a division of the Washington Hancock Community Agency.
The primary purpose of the Annual Convention is to connect and educate those involved in organizing and participating in farmers’ markets.View the Conventions Archive
Maine Farmers’ Market Directory
MFFM maintains the Maine Farmers’ Market Directory, a list of all farmers’ markets in the state and their relevant information (such as location, season, days, and times). To send updates, email firstname.lastname@example.org. MFFM shares the public information in the database with the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (which operates the Get Real, Get Maine! page) and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (which publishes the list every spring), as well as with newspaper, magazines, and others wishing to promote Maine’s farmers’ markets. The directory may be searched online by location or by day of the week.Visit the Market Directory
For news about Maine’s farmers’ markets, photos of markets from around the state, and important announcements, follow our primary Facebook page.
We also have a Facebook page dedicated to the impactful work of Maine Harvest Bucks. This page features recipes, Maine Harvest Bucks market highlights, where and how to use MHB, cooking advice, information about seasonal foods, tips on healthy eating, and more.
Our third Facebook page, Maine Farmers’ Market Vendors Wanted, was created to deal specifically with markets looking for new members and food producers looking for a market to join. Activity on this page is especially brisk during the winter as each group is making their plans for the year.