National Farmers Market Week: Spotlighting community value amidst a pandemic

LEAP in Roanoke brings awareness to the power of knowing where your food comes from

ROANOKE, Va. – National Farmers Market Week takes new meaning at a time where the demand for local fresh food has cranked up since the start of this pandemic.

The purpose of the national week is to shed light on the value markets bring to the community’s economy, access to food and health —something that’s been shining bright during this pandemic.

Sam Lev, director of programs and operations at Roanoke non-profit, LEAP, says they’ve seen an increase in customers and the amount of food people are buying. He said he is grateful people are recognizing farmer markets’ worth. LEAP stands for Local Environmental Agriculture Project.

Even though LEAP isn’t having its usual National Farmers Market Week events doesn’t mean the hard work of everyone involved these past several months will go unnoticed.

“This year we’re really just taking the opportunity to say thank you. Thank you to the customers that stuck with us through the years and through all of this in particular, thanks to the vendors who are working their butts off to really make sure all that food is of the highest quality and still available through all of this,” Lev said.

During this time of uncertainty, LEAP has had to adapt.

LEAP runs three farmer’s markets including its mobile market that makes 7-8 stops a week.

At the start of the pandemic, they had curbside farmer’s markets and developed an online market.

Lev said, “One of the interesting things about this week is it’s given the opportunity to just show how much people have done during the pandemic to make sure farmer's markets continue to thrive and those connections are still made. We don’t know how long it’s going to last. I mean we have our online farmers market and we’re predicting it’s going to be around for a really long time.”

LEAP markets have a program where the buying power of a SNAP or Pandemic EBT card is doubled. For example, if you pay $5 with your card you can get $10 worth of produce.

Here is a link to help find a farmers market near you.

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