Members of the New Carlisle Farmers’ Market planning committee met last week to begin organizing the event for the upcoming summer.  The 2015 season marks the third year for the New Carlisle Farmers’ Market, which has operated in partnership with the Western Clark County Business Coalition for the past two seasons.  This year, Clark County Combined Health District will also begin the process of working with New Carlisle produce growers in attempt to get them to accept WIC vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables at the markets.

Sarah Dahlinghaus, a Health Educator at the CCCHD, said grants monies were approved for this project, which will be focused on New Carlisle specifically because it is what she referred to as a “food desert.”  The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a “food desert” as an “urban neighborhood or rural town without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food…served only fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options.”  The USDA said that such factors can lead to poor diets, which contribute to obesity and diabetes.

Dahlinghaus said the CCCHD will reach out to New Carlisle-area produce vendors at the market to ask them to accept WIC vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables that have been grown locally.  She said the growers will have to sign a simple contract stipulating that the produce was actually grown locally and that they will not make change or alter their prices from a WIC customer to another.  

While funding for this project will officially be approved in April, Dahlinghaus said she is searching for grants that would allow the same voucher system for seniors in New Carlisle.  

Randy Bridge, Planning Director for the City of New Carlisle, said the city would continue to focus on safety during the market this summer.  He said the city would be working more closely with the CCCHD to ensure proper labeling on homemade food items as well as possibly shutting down the affected portion of Main Street during busier market days.

President of the Western Clark County Business Coalition David Trimmer said he believed the market was poised to grow even more this year, noting he has heard many residents saying they’re glad to be downtown.  “No one can deny the ambiance,” Trimmer said of the many multi-colored booths lining downtown on summer weekends.

Like last year, the market is expected to begin with the Summer Solstice, on the weekend of June 21.  Visit the New Carlisle Farmers’ Market Facebook page for more information.

Local produce growers are encouraged to apply for a booth, as are local crafters, artisans, bakers, and specialty-sellers.

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