Training for market vendors offered at museum

Farmington Growers Market, Aztec Farmers Market boards collaborate to stage Saturday event

Leigh Black Irvin
lirvin@daily-times.com
Visitors shop for produce July 21, 2015, at the Farmington Growers Market at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.
  • Information about the upcoming market season will be provided in addition to the vendor training.
  • The Farmington Growers Market will open June 10, and the Aztec Farmers Market opens July 5.
  • Vendors do not need to register in advance for Saturday's training.

FARMINGTON — Area farmers and vendors who wish to sell their wares at either the Farmington Growers Market or the Aztec Farmers Market this summer may wish to attend a training class designed for both new and returning market vendors.

The training will take place Saturday morning at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park and will provide updates about the upcoming market season, as well as mandatory training for vendors who would like to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women Infant Children (WIC) program and the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).

The free training is being presented by the boards of both the Farmington Growers Market and the Aztec Farmers Market.

"Because our markets have similar vendors, we consider Aztec and Farmington to be 'sister markets,'" said organizer Bonnie Hopkins, who is a member of the Farmington Growers Market board. "We want to get new and returning vendors together before the growing season starts — it's a chance to get everyone on the same page."

Hopkins explained that vendors can accept SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) benefits on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card through a program called Double Up Food Bucks, which matches the value of SNAP benefits spent. The program was created in order to help New Mexico farmers while encouraging people to purchase healthy food.

Customers line up at Bridgewater Produce during the Farmington Growers Market on July 7 at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

"For example, if someone comes to either the Farmington or Aztec growers market and swipes $50 off of their SNAP EBT card, they will get 50 traditional SNAP tokens that can be used to purchase New Mexico-grown produce," she said.

Hopkins said that in addition to food items, the SNAP benefits can also be used to purchase plants.

"People aren't aware that they can also use their SNAP dollars to buy tomato plants and other types of plants from greenhouses like Brewer's and Elder's greenhouses, which are vendors at the farmers markets," she said.

Saturday's training also fulfills a mandatory requirement for those vendors who would like to participate in the WIC and SFMNP programs. WIC and FMNP clients utilize vouchers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. Vendors who have gone through the training will sign an agreement with the Department of Health and will receive an identification number indicating that they are approved to accept the vouchers.

Unlike the Double Up Food Bucks program, WIC and SFMNP purchases are not eligible for matching tokens.

Hopkins said that in addition to the mandatory training, Saturday's session will allow farmers market vendors to learn about updates on the upcoming market season, and they will receive information on other topics such as farm food safety training.

Last year, she said, 25 vendors participated in the Farmington Farmers Market.

"I won't know how many are participating this year until the season gets started," she said. "It usually starts slow at the beginning, then picks up in August and September."

Relocating the Farmington Growers Market from Animas Park to the Farmington Museum in 2011 was a positive move, Hopkins said.

"We have a great relationship with the city of Farmington, and we love being at the museum," she said. "We're much more visible there, and although people miss the trees (from the prior location), we were more out of sight, out of mind there."

The Farmington Growers Market will open Saturday, June 10, and the first Tuesday market starts July 11. The Aztec Farmers Market at Westside Plaza opens July 5 and will be held Wednesdays throughout the summer and early fall, until the first freeze occurs.

Hopkins said it is not necessary to pre-register for the vendor training session. Those wishing to participate can just show up on Saturday.

Leigh Black Irvin is the business editor for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621.

If you go

What: Market vendor training

When: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday

Where: Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, 3041 E. Main St. in Farmington

For more information: call 505-334-9496 or visit farmingtongrowersmarket.com