Iowa is no stranger to farmers and farmers’ markets. These markets act as an opportunity for farmers to not only sell their products directly to consumers but allow consumers to talk to the people growing their food.

However, over the last few years, farmers have been faced with growing challenges from land prices, a pandemic, and finding the resources they need.

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To help markets in Northeast Iowa, Northeast Iowa RC&D is receiving a $420,000 three-year grant from the USDA to support markets in Decorah, Cresco, Postville, Oelwein, Guttenberg, and Independence.

The money will come from the Farmers Market Promotion Project. This program supports projects that help develop, coordinate, and expand direct producer-to-consumer markets. In order to receive the funds, a 25 percent funding match is required.

The RC&D plans to use the funds to enhance the Iowa Farmers Market Toolkit by implementing a Northeast Iowa Farmers Market Manager Certification Program, development of the Iowa Farmers Market Manager Certification Program, and Pilot Implementation.

The previous toolkit sparked the need to further enhance these resources by offering 1 5 training modules for market managers to learn the skills to run successful markets.

The funding will help create a pilot program in the six selected communities in Northeast Iowa. The program will offer each market one-on-one technical assistance, success kits, and strategic action steps to ensure short-term success while also addressing long-term challenges.

This is one of five projects the USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Project funded in Iowa in 2021. Applications for 2022 grants are being accepted through May.

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