Farm To Street program launch
DUBUQUE, Iowa, October 3, 2019 -- Food vendors at Millwork Night Market will now be able to collect reimbursement funds for any locally purchased produce, meat, dairy, or other ingredients for their hot-prepared menus.
Co-founders of the monthly evening farmers’ market Andie Donnan and Danielle Stowell define “local” as within 100 miles from Dubuque, and hope this new program, dubbed “Farm-To-Street,” will help bridge the knowledge gap between what people eat, and where their food comes from.
“Our goal for the Night Market has always been to strengthen our local foods economy, and I feel like we’ve done a good job of stressing to our shoppers the importance of buying locally,” said Donnan. “But we got to thinking, and decided we could do a better job of encouraging our vendors to do the same.”
Stowell agreed, and the pair set to work on coming up with an incentive program to get vendors to opt-in. “Farm-To-Street will definitely benefit farmers and bring more transparency to shoppers, but unfortunately, changing buying sources may initially cost hot food vendors more. We wanted to make sure that vendors’ profit margins wouldn’t take a hit, and that prices wouldn’t increase for customers,” said Stowell. “We heard about the grant program from Dubuque County Local Foods Policy Council, and it seemed like the perfect solution.”
The grant funds they were awarded will be used to reimburse vendors for a certain percentage of ingredients purchased locally. Stowell and Donnan see this as an opportunity for vendors to expand their connections with local farmers, and learn to plan and budget accordingly for future seasons.
Many Night Market food vendors already purchase locally, but market staff did not require vendors to report ingredient sources prior to launching the Farm-To-Street program.
Currently, Farm-To-Street is funded through June of next year. Stowell and Donnan continue to look for additional revenue sources to fund the reimbursements through the end of the next Night Market season, which will be October of 2020.
Eventually, they intend to make locally-sourcing a portion of ingredients a requirement for hot food vendors, even after the grant funds are exhausted.
About the Millwork Night Market:
Founded in 2017, the Millwork Night Market is on a mission to bring vibrant nightlife to Dubuque's Historic Millwork District, while also supporting local farmers, producers, and artisans. A lively, evening market and entertainment destination, the night market features the best of what's local, from produce and flowers to art and live music. The Market co-founders believe this can be done while also being good stewards of the environment, and have committed to working toward becoming a zero-waste event. For more information on the Millwork Night Market and participating vendors, please visit www.millworknightmarket.com and follow them on social at www.facebook.com/MillworkNightMarket.