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Graham County Health: Farmers Market a possible solution to poor diet

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SAFFORD — Where the garden grows, healthy food can go further.

According to the findings of the Graham County Community Health Analysis survey, the majority of Graham County residents get their food from local grocery stores. However, 21 percent of the individuals who answered the survey said a personal food source is their gardens.

Since January of 2020, a new Gila Valley Farmer’s Market group has sprung to life with the goal of gathering local farmers to sell their homegrown vegetables and fruits to the rest of the community.

“FMI gave Our Neighbor’s Farm and Pantry a grant last fall to do an assessment on healthy local food. We have four committees working simultaneously together. The committee I’m in charge of is the Farmer’s Market Committee,” said Graham County Chamber Director Vance Bryce. “A farmer’s market is like a garden — you have to do it one step at a time and it will grow. We’re going to try to have a couple of producers at wine fest to try to work out some kinks that we might have just as a test.”

Last Friday, the Gila Valley Farmer’s Market group met at the Graham County Fairgrounds for a site assessment. At this point the Gila Valley Farmer’s Market has a weekly meeting as well as a Facebook page for individuals who are interested in the possibility of selling their home-grown items.

Bryce told the Courier that the ripple effect of a farmer’s market could bring many positive results. For instance, a farmer’s market could bring a boost to tourism. Also, it could possibly encourage “farm-to-table” dining at local restaurants.

Calling himself a midwife to a Gila Valley farmer’s market, Bryce told the Courier that once established, he hoped to pass on the reigns of the market to an individual who would be in charge of it and paid for the work.

“There’s a lot of people in their 30s (and) late 20s that are looking for this stuff in our community,” Bryce said. “We can’t do this without the community. Farmer’s markets are all about community. There will end up being someone who runs this and will be a director. But if you’re interested in a farmer’s market and you want a farmer’s market, we need you. We can’t do this without you.”

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