We are thrilled to announce an exciting new opportunity for our local farms. We’re looking for vegetable and specialty meat farmers who are interested in working with us to receive financial and technical support to expand their infrastructure.

It’s common knowledge that if we are able to support our farmers who grow healthy local food and make it affordable & accessible in our community, we’ll all be better off! Buying local food supports the local economy and keeps our money close to home. That money not only supports our local farmers, it’s also more likely to be reinvested in businesses and services in our communities.

For the last two years, the Garrett County Health Department’s Population Health, Innovation & Informatics unit paid Garrett Growers, a local network of farmers, to bring their produce to remote locations in the county; we called it Veggies On The Move. At those pop-up markets, eligible SNAP participants could double their SNAP dollars. For those who don’t know, SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A nutrition program that helps individuals and families buy food. The program provides a monthly sum of money on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which is used like a debit card at participating grocery stores and other food retail outlets.

This new grant is designed for us to take additional farmers who are considering trying to sell produce, those who want to expand to offer larger quantities or different types of produce, begin their own CSA or join an existing network and accept SNAP so that more farmers benefit and more people who use SNAP get more produce. We’re open to a lot of different ideas and want to work with new people!

Nutrition is the second highest concern for residents in Garrett County, according to the latest Community Health Assessment. So, we are actively working to address this concern for our community. Read the Data Insight here for a detailed summary of the issue: https://garretthealth.org/data-insight-2022-b-food-and-nutrition-security/.

Data for Garrett County reflect a median household income that is 200% below the federal poverty level for a family of four, including all of the census tracts in the southern end of the county. It should also be noted that 40% of households eligible for SNAP benefits do not currently utilize these resources.

Food and nutrition security are complex issues that take multiple agencies, community partners, and volunteers who are willing to work together. We’re grateful to have found partners over the last three years who are working with us in varying degrees on several aspects of this work. We’re looking forward to strengthening our partnerships and expanding to work with new people!

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Please spread the word,
  2. Share the interest form with anyone who may be interested. https://gogarrettcounty.com/garrett-county-food-access-infrastructure-initiative-for-farmers/
  3. Join the meeting on October 26th at 6:30 p.m. to learn more and share your ideas. It’s Hybrid, come in person or join virtually! https://gcinmotion.garrettcountyapps.com/community-calendar/

Shelley Argabrite
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