We are happy to be participating with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) on an incentive program to boost sales at farmers’ markets across the state. The idea is to encourage you to add a market-season boost to your local economy by patronizing farmers’ markets and spending more money when you do.
VDACS has come up with a punch card that we will hand out at the market and punch every time you spend $10. You can have it punched each week to reflect the total amount of your sales. Once the card is full of punches, you may fill in your contact information on the back and drop it in the jar on the Smart Markets table and pick up another card. Every month, we will hold a drawing and give away a prize. Then at the end of the season your cards will become part of a statewide drawing that will award the winning selection with a Virginia Grown/Virginia’s Finest gift basket worth $250.
VDACS worked with the Virginia Food System Councils to develop the program to enhance its year-old $10-a-week pledge campaign to grow the local economy. Research by Virginia Cooperative Extension has shown that if each household in Virginia spent just $10 a week on locally grown agricultural products, consumers would invest an additional $1.65 billion back into the local economy each year. While our markets, like most in the area, have farmers from neighboring states, most of our farmers farm in Virginia, and we have also have several local bakers at our markets in your area. So much of what you spend really does stay in the state, unlike money spent in the grocery store, which heads to parts unknown to help someone else’s local economy.
We will have the cards at the market this weekend. Our managers and volunteers will be handing them out, and you can pick them up at the Smart Markets tent. Some of our vendors will punch them for you when you make your purchase. If necessary, you can ask the manager or volunteer to punch it for you.
This program has the immediate goal of increasing sales and bringing more money into the state’s economy, but the real-time benefit will be the enthusiasm created at Virginia’s 240 markets that should carry across the state and bring the markets more attention.
Join with us to make this work — and show up those other markets too!
See you at the market!