CINCINNATI -- A worker carefully peels tape off of patches of yellow paint to reveal a honeycomb design on the side of the trailer. Complete with painted blades of grass and a cutout window, the former shipping unit is ready for its debut as Findlay Market’s newest farm stand.
The Evanston farm stand opened Thursday, making it the third Findlay Market farm stand in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Like the other farm stands in Price Hill and Walnut Hills, the Evanston farm stand provides locally grown and sourced products to the community.
From fresh fruits and vegetables to honey and jellies to farm fresh eggs, each farm stand carries different products depending on the neighborhood and the demand.
No one knows how to provide different products quite like Tristan Crigger.
As the Local Food Program Manager for Findlay Market, Crigger is responsible for launching and managing all three farm stands, as well as mapping out locations for new sites.
Crigger said several farmers make special deliveries to the farm stands during the week to bring the freshest produce to the community. Additional products are pulled from Findlay’s store, Dirt: A Modern Market.
No matter what the stand supplies, whether it be produce or chips and salsa, everything must be sourced from within the community.
“Everything in the store is either grown or produced locally,” Crigger said. “So they have a little bit of everything, and we try to bring a little bit of everything to accompany the produce at the farm stands, whatever the community seems to responds to… anything really that you can imagine, we bring a little bit of it.”
A Community Effort
Kelly Lanser, Communications Manager for Findlay Market, said the support of Evanston has been instrumental in getting the farm stand up and running.
“We’ve been really lucky in Evanston. I think the farm stands only are successful with the help of community partners,” Lanser said. “If people within the community -- whether it’s volunteers or organizations -- are excited and support the program, that’s when they do really well.”
Crigger mentioned Xavier University and the Evanston Community Council have been particularly supportive.
He said marketing and communication classes at Xavier did research on the area for class projects, and he used the information to derive marketing, communication and branding ideas.
Crigger also said he is grateful for Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, as they provided the land for the farm stand, which was acquired through funding from the city.
Councilmember Yvette Simpson said she has a very close relationship with those at Findlay Market, and she is deeply supportive of their effort to provide Evanston with fresh, local products.
“In areas like Evanston, where we have a high concentration of low income individuals who may not have access to either transportation and/or quality, fresh fruits and vegetables, I think it’s a great model,” Simpson said.
Lanser said she is excited to see the final result of over a year’s work with the Evanston community.
“They have been passionate about having this in their neighborhood, and we’ve been working together to find a perfect location, and the perfect products to launch,” Lanser said. “So we’re just happy that it’s finally happening, and we’re so appreciative of our partners in Evanston.”
Providing More Than Local Products
Crigger said local products not only increase health and wellbeing, they also benefit the economy.
“Food that is grown and sourced locally tends to have a higher nutritional content, simply because it hasn’t been sitting in a warehouse or breaking down for weeks on end,” Crigger said. “In addition to that, people who purchase locally grown produce or locally made products, that money is then retained within the local economy as opposed to purchasing from somebody shipping from China or California.”
When you buy a locally sourced product, that money stays right here within the community, so not only do you benefit that producer, you benefit yourself as well because your dollars are staying in the community in which you live.”
Lanser hopes the farm stand will offer much more than food to the community.
“On top of selling the products, we also will have cooking demos and recipe cards,” Lanser said. “So once they get the fresh food, what do they do with it? We’re trying to just add that education component to it.”
Additionally, Lanser hopes the farm stands help educate shoppers when to buy certain produce items based on the season.
“Another educational component is seasonal eating,” Lanser said. “We’re able to speak to people one-on-one when they come to the farm stands about what’s in season, when they should purchase things, and then what to do with those products.”
The farm stand will also accept electronic benefits transfer cards, and they have a program for shoppers to maximize their spending.
The program, Produce Perks, provides two-for-one incentive tokens. Crigger explained that shoppers who want to draw from their EBT card are given coins in return that can be spent at Findlay Market or any of the farm stands. The program also matches the first $10.
“If they get $15 from the card, we will give them an additional $10 in Produce Perks coins,” Crigger said. “The EBT coins are good for anything that EBT qualifies for. The produce perks points are good for any fresh food or vegetable item.”
The Produce Perks program is in place to alleviate the higher cost of buying local products.
“I think that the mission of the farm stand accomplishes two things. We provide local, fresh produce and goods to a community that may not have access to it, and through the education process, we teach them how to utilize that, and through programs like Produce Perks, how to afford it,” Crigger said.
He hopes the program will promote local products.
“Sometimes shopping locally is a little bit more expensive, hence the produce perks, which helps capitalize and maximize their spending abilities,” Crigger said. “It’s not always the case, but on some items it is, and that’s cost of doing business on a local level.”
But what you get in return more than makes up for the extra pennies that you paid for the product.”
Crigger said the grand opening Thursday was an opportunity to thank the community and everyone who was involved in making the farm stand a reality.
“We want to say thank you, but we’re also ready to roll up our sleeves and service the community,” Crigger said.
The Evanston farm stand is open 3 p.m.- 6 p.m. every Thursday through October at 1614 Hewitt Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio.