Appalachian RC&D Council –Awarded $500k to Boost Farmers Markets Across the Region

November 30, 2017

Johnson City, TN

Farmers Markets in Northeast TN and Southwest Virginia just received a big boost through a grant award of almost half a million dollars under the USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP).  The FMPP coalition, headed by the Appalachian RC&D Council in Johnson City, TN, also includes Appalachian Sustainable Development in Abingdon VA, Jonesborough Locally Grown, Unicoi’s Mountain Harvest Kitchen, the Appalachian Farmers Market Association, the Northeast TN Tourism Association, and the University of TN Extension and Center for Profitable Agriculture.

According to Appalachian RC&D Council Executive Director, Emily Bidgood, “More and more customers want to buy directly from their local farms where they can trust that it is fresh and healthy. This major grant award helps farms tap into that customer potential.”

This three-year grant award will give both farmer vendors, and farmer market organizations, the tools and training they need to run successful marketing campaigns in order to boost attendance and sales. It will also promote locally produced agricultural products and develop new market opportunities for farms that sell direct to the public through farmers markets, farm stands, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, on-farm sales, and other similar outlets.  Programming will include educational outreach to EBT (SNAP/food stamp) recipients, and an annual Farm Tour.

The grant was announced as part of $26.8 million in FMPP and Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grants nationally from the Agricultural Marketing Service division of the USDA. Since its creation in 2002, FMPP funding has assisted local producers to grow their businesses by helping them connect directly with the shoppers. During that time, the number of farmers markets in America has more than doubled from 3,137 to over 8,684 today, and total sales now exceed $700 million. According to a Farmers Market Coalition report, FMPP grantees report an average 27% increase in vendor sales after receiving their grant, and 94% report an increase in first time market customers.

“We really look forward to implementing this project with our partner Appalachian RC&D.  This support will be invaluable in our joint efforts to increase the success of farmers in our region and improve our local food economy,” says Kathlyn Terry, Appalachian Sustainable Development Executive Director, who coordinates the Appalachian Farmers Market Association and runs Appalachian Harvest.

The Farmers Market Promotion Program grant award will work across state lines, in Northeast TN and Southwest VA.  “Forming a regional coalition to address the needs of our farmers and farmers markets just makes sense.  We work regionally based on geographic boundaries, not state boundaries. Forming this partnership gives us all a step up and better enables us to support our farming community,” adds Rachel Wheeler, FMPP coordinator of the Appalachian RC&D Council.

“At its core, this grant is driven to see all of our community take advantage of fresh local foods sold by farmers,” says Wheeler.

The 2017’s FMPP grants were awarded to projects in 33 states, including projects to expand nutrition assistance programs in Mississippi, Montana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, and California.  A full list of awardees can be found on the USDA website.

For more information about the upcoming FMPP program offerings in Northeast TN and Southwest VA, please contact Rachel Wheeler with the Appalachian RC&D Council at (423) 979-2581 or by email at Visit the Appalachian RC&D Council online at