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June 2024

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Questa Farmers Market 2022 economic recap: Part I

Questa Farmers Market (QFM) will open Sunday, May 28, beginning our seventh official season in operation! We are a program of Localogy, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) in Questa. Our mission is to strengthen the local food system in northern Taos County by supporting small land- and home-based businesses, and youth through market internships, mentorship, and skill building.


Our program organizes a market each Sunday during the growing season. We coordinate a youth internship and mentorship project, we partner with the North Central Food Pantry (NCFP) and local producers to send food out through the pantry’s distribution, and we collaborate with Vida del Norte Coalition, Questa Stories, Questa Creative Council and other community nonprofits, organizations and individuals. Our program grows each season through input and reflection from community members, especially from youth who work with QFM.


• We support tradition, adaptation, and resilience with these core initiatives:
• Regenerate the local food economy through exchange.
• Create a beautiful space to support community gathering.
• Offer paid youth internships and adult mentorship positions.
• Distribute local food through the North Central Food Pantry.
• Use water rights to irrigate newly planted trees.


The market happens every Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from the end of May to early October. The marketsite has been developed on land under the ownership of the Questa Economic Development Foundation (QEDF). For six years we have established a landscape that can be navigated by a few hundred people, created gardens, built and electrified vendor shelters, added an horno, built a dance floor, and added murals. These improvements have been made possible through the financial support of the QEDF and the LOR Foundation, the Taos Community Foundation, Chevron Grants for Good, the LANL Foundation and many hours (both paid and donated) by community members and visiting volunteer groups.


2022 Season Highlights


2022 was an especially exciting season because of the number of youth interns and adult mentors we were able to hire. Their added energy and creativity was heartening and made the work of the market season more meaningful and rewarding.


Our Youth Internship Program employs teens at the market, farms, and local production sites. At the market, teens and mentors expanded two small businesses; a coffee stand and a project making pizzas in the horno. Interns planted and tended the market gardens with mentors and volunteers including Andy and Lorie Jaramillo, QFM volunteers since 2019. The horno was mudded several times this season by interns, Vida Del Norte and Sangre de Cristo summer camp kids, and by our community and visitors.
Muralist Rae Lewis continued a mural project on the market shipping container, which is a greatly appreciated donation from the Questa Credit Union. Rae worked with QFM interns, Vida interns, Vida Camp and Sangre de Cristo Youth Ranch Camp kids, and community members to create a pollinator mural, dedicated to Monarch butterflies and milkweed.


We succeed at channeling acequia water to the land again! The QEDF pays dues on water, but no one could use this resource without a ditch to channel it, and an intentional use for the water. Scott Sutton brought his expertise in land shaping and planting to the project. Vida Interns, Sangre de Cristo Youth Ranch Camp kids, community volunteers, QFM Interns and mentors, and Jesse Hardy along with Scott Sutton dug a ditch, placed a culvert, created a swale, and planted trees, native plants, wild dye plants and more. “I’m excited for the pits of the wild plums [also called ditch plums] found growing along the acequias and rios to sprout this spring along the swale!” says Sutton. Special thanks to Questa Lumber for the perfect culvert pipe and for delivering it!


The Art Market joined the Farmers Market on Sundays, setting up in an adjacent location. This brought more vendors and customers than last year and was a great success! This is a separate market that tallied their own economic data to be reported separately.


Thanks to Questa Stories we heard a local story in the voice of the storyteller for a few minutes at each market. Every week Questa Stories shared a different short story from our community with a project they call Voices de Aquí. Questa Stories is supporting individual, community, and cultural connection, understanding and resiliency through audio-visual story gathering and sharing, more at questastories.org. We look forward to another project from Questa Stories popping up at QFM!


2022 Economic Impact for QFM Vendors


Our initiative, to regenerate the local food economy through exchange, is met by all of us. At each market, neighbors support each other by buying products from local farmers, gardeners, bakers, and craftspeople. The market is a bright stopping place for visitors to our community. Creating a shared source of community wealth cannot be measured, but it is experienced. One thing that can perhaps be measured is the economic value of the 2022 season.


We track the financial impact of the market each year. On average there were 12 QFM vendors each Sunday and an average of 320 customers. The 2022 market opened at the end of May and closed at the start of October, running for 19 consecutive Sundays.


Collectively, our vendors earned $57,294 in 2022 compared to $40,825 in 2021, a significant increase. When we invest locally, we benefit households in and around Questa and northern Taos County, strengthening our local roots, rather than benefiting large corporations.


The 2022 total includes three categories:

• $24, 366 in Raw Agricultural Products (fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat and honey),
• $22,730 in Produced Food (hot food, baked goods, processed farm products like pickles, preserves and pesto),
• $7,137 in Art and Craft (handmade items, soaps, bouquets).

These exchanges and material support strengthen our communal ties. Congratulations to our vendors on their hard work!


Partnerships


In addition to organizing the Sunday market, our program works in partnership with the North Central Food Pantry (NCFP, ncfpquesta.com), helping coordinate the purchase and transport of local food, with NCFP funding. This investment in local growers means that together we are making our agricultural community stronger. This partnership began in 2020 when the supply chain was disrupted by COVID-19.

Each season since, interns, mentors and volunteers have worked together to accomplish this work and will continue in 2023 with Taos County ARPA Funding*, awarded through Taos Community Foundation.


The Sunday markets are lively and fun with local musicians playing each week. Our vendors’ fees sponsor musicians, but these fees are kept at a minimum and are supplemented by grant funding and partnerships. Questa Creative Council collaboration in 2021 and again in 2022 has helped to pay local musicians. We are grateful to this local nonprofit; to learn more about them, check out QuestaCreative.org.


We have been establishing roles and paid jobs for youth and mentors to build a positive and powerful program. Our Youth Internship Program received LANL Foundation support with a 2-year Education Enrichment Grant, 2023 begins our second season with their support. To apply for the internship, go to: questafarmersmarket.org/blog/internship/.


Our mentorship program will be supported in part in 2023 through the Taos County ARPA Funding, awarded through Taos Community Foundation.


Farmers Market Designation & Food Benefit Programs


Our market participates in Food Benefit Programs including SNAP/EBT and Double Up Food Bucks as well as the WIC and the Senior Nutrition Farm Program.


At least 50 percent of our vendors must sell raw farm goods/unprocessed local foods (fruits, vegetables, honey, eggs, meat). Local means grown within 80 miles of the market. The remaining percentage of our vendors must sell local prepared foods (SNAP/EBT eligible) and value-added farm goods while a very small percent may sell local handmade items like salve, soap, and bouquets, in addition to food. These guidelines are followed to keep our market eligible for Food Benefit Programs.


If you have SNAP benefits already, you will receive Double Up Food Bucks automatically when you use your EBT card at the market. When you come to the market and take out an amount from your SNAP/EBT Card, for example, $20, you’ll get another $20 to spend on local fruits and vegetables. This is how you double your money to $40.


This is a food benefit program that Questa Farmers Market, and many other markets and grocery stores participate in: https://www.doubleupnm.org/how-it-works/


QFM welcomes backyard gardeners and professional growers, people with family orchards, and young, ambitious farmers. We work creatively to accommodate the maximum number and variety of vendors. We can arrange for group tables where multiple small producers’ goods are sold. You can find details about becoming a vendor on our website, questafarmersmarket.org/for-vendors/.


Contact


We are a program of the local non-profit, Localogy www.localogy.org
To contact Market Organizer, Gaea, call (575) 224-2102 or email growersmakers@gmail.com
Please visit QuestaFarmersMarket.org
facebook.com/QuestaFarmersMarket
instagram.com/questafarmersmarket


*In partnership with Taos Community Foundation, Taos County has allocated $686,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to local nonprofit organizations.

Author

  • Gaea McGahee

    Gaea McGahee is the organizer of the the Questa Farmers Market growersmakers@gmail.com, https://questafarmersmarket.org/ and is the owner/operator of Yoga Sala in Questa. http://www.yogasalaquesta.org/, yogasalaquesta@gmail.com

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