Local Farmers Reach Out to End Food Desert in Jefferson City

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, there is a food desert in the heart of Jefferson City. Information gathered and obtained through the Food Access Research Atlas reflects low-income and low-access data for distance and availability of supermarkets in the area. The map provided by USDA shows that over 4,800 residents in this Jefferson City region (shown in green) are at least one mile in urban areas, and ten miles in rural areas from the nearest supermarket. Additionally, the information gathered (shown in yellow) reflects areas where at least 100 residents are without a vehicle and more than a half mile from the nearest supermarket, or areas where residents must travel more than 20 miles to shop – currently affecting more than 2,200 people.

In January of this year, a group of central Missouri farmers and artisans formed the Capital City Farmers Market to help increase food opportunities in the downtown area. Currently, Capital City Farmers Market is the only market in Cole County that is USDA certified to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or EBT funds. Additionally, the market is offering a price MATCH program for members of the community eligible for SNAP. Each week, families qualifying for assistance are eligible for $10 in free market product for each $10 of SNAP/EBT dollars spent with local farmers up to $20. Capital City Farmers Market is working with local businesses to raise the funds necessary to support the program through a weekly sponsorship exchange at $100 per week. Although these kind-hearted farmers are starting with a weekly maximum, they are hoping to increase that limit as more business partners join them in their mission to bring local food to local people.  

Each week, the market will bring a variety of local farmers and products to the downtown area. Some of those farmers include Steve Smart of Invermos Valley Farms, which sells local and grass fed beef, and Trudy Ferguson and spouse with Homemade Cottage who will bring weekly jams, jellies, and baked goods. A few of the items offered by the market include seasonal fruits and vegetables, eggs, pork, pecans, breads, and coffee produced by local, small batch coffee roaster Bare Knuckle Roasting. You can find out what items will be available each week by visiting the Capital City Farmers Market Facebook Page.

President of the Board, Diana Duncan says, “It’s about more than bringing fresh and local foods, it’s also about the educational component. Our favorite part is giving people the opportunity to talk face to face with the farmer that grows their food. We strive to help people sort through marketing misconceptions, and truly understand why their food is raised the way it is.” Diana operates the Duncan Family Farm, located in Centertown, along with her husband Kevin, their two boys, Gentry and Hayden, and Kevin’s parents, Bob and Betty Duncan; a farm that’s been in their family since 1932.

On Saturday, May 6th, the City Farmer’s Market will partner with Day Solutions Foundation for their 2nd Annual Strikes for Solutions Bowling Fundraiser benefiting adults with developmental disabilities. Local farmers will set up shop that day at Capital Bowl from 12 to 3 p.m. before taking permanent residency at their new location in the 300 block of E. High Street on Saturday, May 13 through end of September. Local businesses and individuals wishing to become MATCH program partners in bringing fresh and affordable food to local residents, should contact Diana Duncan with the Capital City Farmers Market at 573-584-8083 or by email at capitalcityfarmersmarket@gmail.com.