New program at Fort Smith Farmers Market helps starving homeless

Local food strengthens community ties, as farmers and consumers appreciate fresh produce and homemade produce.

The Fort Smith Farmers Market wants to go even further, extending the delicious taste of local foods to new customers while benefiting those suffering from hunger.

The Farmers Market token program launched this month, where consumers can purchase $1 tokens to trade in the market, like a gift card.

“What we hope is that they can give them to someone as a birthday present or for any occasion that doesn’t usually come up in the market,” said Kathy Mazyck, secretary and treasurer of Fort Smith Farmers. Market.

The tokens, which come in a small bag, can be purchased in any amount and can be spent at any Fort Smith Farmers’ Market vendor. Two stations at the market will sell the tokens.

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The tokens, which come in a small bag, can be purchased in any amount and can be spent at any Fort Smith Farmers' Market vendor.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Riverview Hope Campus, which provides meals and shelter to homeless people in Fort Smith.

“It’s a huge task and we knew it was the right decision to give what we could to help this business that they do in one way or another every day,” Mazyck said in an email. “They provide much more than food, including shelter and safe places for those in need to sleep, shower and even bring their beloved animal companions.”

In its first week, the program resonated with customers, who purchased over $70 worth of tokens.

“What surprised us was that some people wanted to buy the tokens for themselves,” Mazyck said, sharing how one customer said it would make shopping easier.

Since 2003, the Fort Smith Farmers Market has offered a variety of locally grown and produced produce, as well as handmade items.

“Our suppliers are the beating heart that keeps our market alive. We have long-time suppliers and new suppliers every year,” Mazyck said in an email. “…Anytime a person can buy something face-to-face from the person who actually grew or made the product and can ask questions about how the product is made, a connection is made, and it’s quite special.”

The next Fort Smith Farmer’s Market will be from 7 a.m. to noon on April 30 at the corner of North 2nd Street and Garrison Avenue.

For more information about the market and the token program, visit the Fort Smith Farmer’s Market Facebook page on Garrison Avenue.

James V. Payne