BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN NEW JERSEY FARMERS AND CONSUMERS THROUGH RESEARCH, EDUCATION AND OUTREACH

Description

In recent years, the number of farmers markets and other Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) marketing channels in New Jersey has increased. Buttressed by growing consumer interest in local food options, farmers markets are increasingly becoming an important source of livelihood for farmers in NJ. However, most existing farmers markets are concentrated in areas with sufficiently high access to fresh fruits and vegetables, while other low-income areas remain underserved. While initiatives like the USDA WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) help provide farm fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need by issuing vouchers to eligible consumers, thus far, NJ's voucher redemption rates remain lower than regional averages. Less research has been conducted to understand low-income consumers in DTC marketing channels, but insights on this topic could potentially help improve FMNP redemption rates and lead to benefits for rural and urban communities. Overall, this project has two broad goals: 1) to bridge the gap between New Jersey's agricultural producers/farmers and consumers by analyzing how farmers markets in urban communities could play a role in improving both farmer livelihoods and the nutrition of low-income consumers with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables; and 2) to strengthen food and agricultural research, education, and outreach through community engagement and Service-Learning at Montclair State University. Specifically, the project will achieve the following objectives: 1) Identify the factors that influence farmer behavior in Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) marketing channels, including their financial incentives, revenue targets for farmers' markets, and why they choose certain DTC channels over others; 2) Assess the consumer preferences of low-income community residents and their willingness to pay for local fruits and vegetables at farmers markets; 3) Expand educational opportunities in food and agricultural sciences by creating curricular materials and by promoting higher education and careers in these fields to underrepresented students and underserved communities. This capacity building grant proposal aligns with the strategic goals of the USDA and the Non-Land Grant College of Agriculture Program by advancing multidisciplinary research, supporting the professional development of faculty, providing research, leadership, outreach and experiential learning experiences to students, strengthening cooperative linkages with community organizations that are engaged in promoting nutrition and health through urban agriculture, and building new connections with organizations representing farmers and rural communities in NJ.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/01/1731/12/18

Funding

  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA): $50,000.00

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educational research
outreach
farmers' markets
farmers
marketing channels
income
raw vegetables
raw fruit
livelihood
USDA
students
learning
urban agriculture
nutrition
professional development
markets
food research
economic incentives
higher education
willingness to pay