Jamestown Public Market Evolves

Markets have existed since humans have engaged in trade. In many countries, shopping at local markets is a feature of everyday life. In the United States, they have become a cultural icon, and a sign of a vibrant city. Travel to cities throughout our country and chances are you’ll come across a market, which can take many forms: open or closed, fresh foods, artisan, entertainment, and more.

Public Markets have shown the ability to bring together a cross section of the local population, both ethnically and economically, highlighting a community’s character and culture, while also improving access to fresh foods from farmers throughout the region. The Jamestown Public Market is a community gathering place — a vibrant destination to meet friends or spend time with family. Our market offers food vendors, craft vendors, live entertainment, and themed events to keep the experience fresh. Participating vendors offer USDA certified organic herbs and produce, all natural pork, poultry and beef as well as flowers, bread, jams and jellies and other pre-prepared goods.

Established in 1913, the Jamestown Public Market has transformed significantly over time. This year, the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation (JRC) restored its original name after operating as the Jamestown Farmer’s Market for nine years. While this has come with new branding and a switch from Thursdays to Saturdays, changes to the Jamestown Public Market are just beginning. Last month, JRC was awarded a $180,000 federal grant through the USDA to support the market and enhance its offerings for years to come. We were one of 52 cities nationwide selected to receive the Farmers Market Promotion Program funding that will support increased promotion of the market, and the creation of a new Mobile Market service. The Mobile Market will purchase food from the Chautauqua Produce Auction in Clymer at wholesale cost, and then return to the city to sell fresh produce to local residents in three priority neighborhoods. In addition to taking fresh foods on the road, the Mobile Market will provide a translator and focus on offering the ethnic foods that each area is looking for.

Through the USDA grant, JRC will help farmers connect with a greater number of people in Jamestown as well as increase people’s access to locally produced agricultural products. Our goal is to enhance profitability of small-scale farmers in Chautauqua County as well as get these fresh products to the people who need them.

We have also taken steps to bridge the economic gap in Jamestown in a variety of ways. Through the SNAP Double Up Food Bucks program, SNAP users can double their buying power when purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at the market, allowing their money to go further and making fresh, local produce more affordable than the alternatives. In addition, reduced fares will be offered to CARTS riders on market days. Lastly, low cost fruits and vegetables will be sold via the mobile market as a result of bulk purchasing at the produce auction.

We attribute the success of this grant to Christina Breen, former market manager, who saw a larger vision for the program and worked passionately to make progress towards this achievement. Sarah Gilbert, grant writer for JRC, worked closely with Christina to ensure that the grant proposal reflected the needs of our community. Research, innovative ideas and many rewrites resulted in the creation of JRC’s winning application.

Being able to offer fresh produce throughout the city is an important initiative to help improve the health of city residents as consuming fruits and vegetables is linked to a lower risk for many chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The enhanced Jamestown Public Market will also work with community partners to offer education about nutrition and food preparation. Free food demonstrations and workshops will be offered by farmers, local residents and chefs. Through these efforts, we will join the national campaign that supports promoting healthy lifestyles and getting to know members of our local farming community.

At Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, we make Jamestown better through inspiration, action, and celebration. We encourage you to take action and come out and support your local farmers: next season starts the first Saturday of June, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Cherry Street. Shop at the Jamestown Public Market to add fresh local ingredients to your diet, spend some time with other members of the community you may not always interact with, and most importantly, have some fun downtown.