Oxford City Market’s new director Betsy Chapman is no stranger to the hard work it takes to run a small farm. As the former marketing and CSA manager of Yokna Bottoms Farm, Chapman spent as many hours in the field as she did at market.
“I have a deep respect for people who have committed their lives to putting good food on the tables of their friends and neighbors,” she said. “And unless you’ve ever picked butter beans all day in July or been ankle-deep in mud harvesting a hundred pounds of peppers, it’s difficult to understand just how hard farm work is.”
Her connection to Oxford’s farming community and OXCM run deep. The farm she helped manage hasn’t missed a market since OXCM was established by the City of Oxford in 2013 through a grant from the USDA.
“From my two years as an OXCM vendor, I’ve watched as the community has come to embrace the market as a valuable addition to the local food movement, an important source of income for small growers and producers, and a voice for those who face significant barriers to accessing healthy, locally grown food.”
OXCM is a market on a mission: To the improve access to locally grown, fresh food, especially to those in the Lafayette-Oxford-University community who have been traditionally underserved.
OXCM was founded to be part of our community’s solution to food insecurity by implementing an EBT system that allows SNAP customers to shop the entire market, by accepting WIC vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables, and by making weekly donations of fresh food to the Oxford Food Pantry.
“The market’s centralized EBT system is a huge step in fulfilling our mission,” Chapman said. “Not too long ago, it was common for food stamp recipients to shop directly from local farmers. However, when SNAP benefits went from paper to plastic, most farmers lacked the costly technology to accept electronic benefits. Our system welcomes SNAP customers to shop from all vendors with eligible food items, which benefits both vendors and customers.”
In 2015, OXCM plans to amp up its efforts by seeking funding to support a Bonus Bucks Program for SNAP customers and a Food Prescription Program that would allow pediatricians to send patients with nutrition related illnesses to the market for fresh fruits and vegetables. The market also envisions adding a mobile market that would increase business for local growers while helping area residents who face transportation barriers.
Now securely established as a viable farmers market, OXCM is poised to play an even greater role in addressing food insecurity by building partnerships to orchestrate a community-wide wellness effort and become a model for communities across the state working to improve access to quality food and address nutrition related illness.
For more information about OXCM or to become a vendor, call 662-832-7257, email email@example.com, or visit their website.