Thursday, 5 July 2018

Community Partnerships

The way to change the world is through individual responsibility and taking local action in your own community.   - Jeff Bridges

Powell River is a community full of individuals taking local actions.  Our community benefits from the passion people bring, whether it be art, music, sports or a number of other passions we see and experience on a regular basis.

This community and the partnerships we have within it are so important to a vital, healthy, growing farmers market.

There are several partnerships that have developed into strong relationships over the past few years. These partnerships have helped small business owners, entrepreneurs,  families in need,  pregnant women and new moms. Our connections in our community continue to grow and expand, but we would like to share a few of our successes with you.

Family Place and BOND (Babies Open New Doors)

The farmers market nutrition coupon program is a partnership between the BC association of farmers markets, the province of British Columbia and the provincial health services authority. Powell River is one of over 60 communities where a local farmers' market partners with community organizations to help improve the health and well-being of community members at every stage of life.

On a weekly basis, participants receive $21 in nutrition coupons which can be spent just like cash at the Powell River Farmers Market. Not only does this allow new moms, low-income families, and seniors to come and buy fresh produce, eggs, nuts and frozen meat but it also helps increase local food security, awareness of local food availability and allows additional funds to flow through our community.

The community partner manages the registration and distribution of the nutrition coupons.  Participants bring the coupons to the farmers' market and purchase the fresh, local products they need. Farmers accept the coupons and cash them in at the end of the day.  Last year this project allowed close to $10,000 worth of sales to occur at the market. It is (conservatively) estimated that this money cycles through our community at least 2 to 3 more times as locals continue to buy local. This year there is an increase in the number of participants as well as the amount participants receive, $21 this year as opposed to  $15 in previous years. Local fundraising has also been put in place to allow the support of seniors in this program.

This is the first year that the Tla'amin Pre/Postnatal group through Tla'amin Health will also be participating.  Welcome to the program and we look forward to seeing you at the market! 

The program is quick to fill up each year, but applications are always available and can be filled out at Family Place. 

The Powell River Action Center Food Bank

For the past two years, incredible work has been underway at the local food bank. If you join us at the market on the weekends, you will see a representative from the food bank at our market each day. This representative provides information to the community while the market is open and once the market closes, collects donations from local farmers and bakers who have produce, eggs, baking or frozen meat available for donation.  The farmers are able to claim up to 25% of the total value of the donation as a  charitable tax deduction.

This has allowed local farmers and bakers to give fresh, nutritious food to the food bank who then, in turn, distributes it to their participants during the week. It has only been in the last couple of years that the food bank has had the ability to receive and store food in cold storage, allowing items like produce and eggs to keep until their distribution date. 

The feedback from the community has been spectacular! Families that require the help of the food bank are delighted to find fresh greens, half a box of fresh eggs or some fresh baking in their allotments.  This is one more way that a local community partnership supports food security in Powell River, connects local people with what is grown locally and helps reduce spoilage or waste.  

Powell River Public Library

We are pleased to host Storytime from the Library every July and August. This has been a wonderful opportunity for children at the market, including vendors children, to enjoy puppetry, rhymes, singalong songs and of course stories in a sweet summertime setting. 

With the Library's support, the market is also able to host the Annual Travelling Puppet Show.  Children absolutely love this show and attendance is especially high for these events.  

The library visits the market every Saturday in July and August and storytime starts at  11:00 AM and goes until 11:30 AM.   We would like to thank Deb Zagwyn for her enthusiasm and support over the past several years and we are excited to welcome Deb's daughter Sonia Zagwyn to carry on this wonderful tradition.  

Boomerang Bags is a grassroots, community-driven movement tackling plastic pollution at its source.
For over a year volunteers have gathered at Fibrespace to make re-useable ‘boomerang bags’ using recycled materials, as a means to provide a sustainable alternative to plastic bags.

The bags are available for use at the farmers' market from a large wooden bin. As a plastic bag alternative that can be used, reused and returned.  The bags not only provide a convenient option to shoppers but also start conversations and bring awareness to our actions towards a sustainable future.

Local advocate Lesley Thorsell has been the catalyst behind making Boomerang Bags a reality in Powell River.  We are so pleased to offer them at the market.  

These are a few examples of community partnerships that have helped our market grow, thrive and add new connections within our town.  Our sense of community grows stronger as we come together, help eachother, support eachother and share in passions that take ideas and create a community-centric solution that supports our growth, health, and longevity.  

Keep up the great work Powell River and remember if you're passionate about something, acting on that passion will make it a reality.  

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