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MINNEAPOLIS – The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) has selected the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition (WBC) to serve as one of four organizations to assume leadership of IATP’s network of mini farmers markets in Minneapolis.

WBC will lead a network of three mini farmers markets starting in 2012: Camden Farmers Market, St. Olaf Community Campus Farmers Market and Heritage Commons Farmers Market. Camden is the oldest mini farmers market in the area and is celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2012.

The Mini Farmers Market Network has become an integral part of the local food system in Minneapolis. With support from the City of Minneapolis, IATP developed and launched the network in 2006 as a way to improve access to fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods across the city. Each market is hosted and managed by a community organization.

“We are thrilled to have the West Broadway Coalition as a Mini Farmers Market Network leader,” says JoAnne Berkenkamp, director of the Local Foods program at IATP. “They bring farmers market expertise, extensive community connections, and the capacity to make a real difference in the community they serve.”

Since the project’s inception, more than 20 organizations have hosted mini markets. Most markets are open one day a week throughout the summer. Nearly all of the markets accept WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) coupons and WIC Fruit and Vegetable Vouchers.

Since 2006, IATP has assisted the markets with city and state regulatory processes, promotional support, evaluation, recruitment of farmers to sell at the markets and other services. Beginning in mid-2012, the West Broadway Coalition will provide technical assistance to the three markets under their purview.

“The West Broadway Coalition is excited to be chosen by IATP to take on the important work of coordinating mini markets throughout the north side” said Erin Jerabek, WBC executive director.

“This new opportunity will position the North Minneapolis farmers markets to work together in a collaborative way,” said Alicia Uzarek, WBC’s farmers market manager. The coalition’s goals for the first year include extending the West Broadway Farmers Market EBT system so that all North Minneapolis farmers markets can accept food support benefits and jointly advertise throughout the area.

The other organizations selected to serve as Mini Farmers Market Network leaders in other parts of Minneapolis are Minnesota FoodShare (a program of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches), Northeast Minneapolis Farmers Market and Kingfield Farmers Market.

This project is sponsored in part by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.