New guide provides steps for conducting farmers markets on installations

WASHINGTON — A new guide shows military installations how to successfully establish and operate farmers markets.

The Guide for Farmers Markets on Military Installations, published this week, provides military commanders with effective ways to bring local agricultural products into the diets of service members and their families at installations across the country.

The guide is the result of collaboration between the Defense Department’s Healthy Base Initiative and the Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service, in partnership with Wholesome Wave, officials said.

“I am extremely excited about the collaborative effort between the USDA and DoD to improve the availability of quality wholesome food and agricultural products on military installations through Farmers Markets,” said Charles E. Milam, DoD’s principal director for military community and family policy. “As seen throughout the Healthy Base Initiative, farmers markets provided customers with the quality experience and products they desire at affordable prices while being financially viable for vendors as well. It’s a win-win for the military community and local economies.”

Healthy Base Initiative

The Healthy Base Initiative launched March 2013 at 14 military installations with the goal to improve nutritional choices, increase physical activity, reduce obesity, and decrease tobacco use.

“This guide is a major step forward,” said Anne L. Alonzo, Agricultural Marketing Service administrator. “By helping military installations establish farmers markets, we will help provide service members with fresh, healthy food, while also connecting them to their local communities.

“At the same time,” she continued, “the markets will create new economic opportunities for farmers to benefit from the growing demand for local and regional food. I’m thrilled that USDA and DoD worked together on this project, which will make a difference to so many families and communities across the country.”

The Agricultural Marketing Service supports farmers markets and local food programs through competitive grants, research and technical assistance.

The guide is based in part on interviews conducted with people involved with existing farmers markets on five military installations: Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Meade, Maryland; Defense Logistics Agency Defense Health Headquarters, Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Camp Lejuene, North Carolina; and Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service report, farmers across the country sold an estimated $6.1 billion in locally marketed foods in 2012. Service members and others can use the free, online USDA National Farmers Market Directory to find a farmers market in their communities.

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