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Dear Friend of the Market,

“We are so happy you stayed open, it was critical to all we do.” – Cara Tipton, Tea Hills Farms

The North Union Farmers Market’s Annual Fund assists in covering our day to day expenses. This year it is more important than ever.

When COVID 19 struck our nation and our community in March 2020 we were forced to temporarily shut down our indoor Winter Farmers Markets for one week. Knowing the importance of our market network in helping small Ohio farmers stay afloat, bringing healthy food to you, and being accessible to the needs of SNAP, WIC and Senior coupon shoppers, we quickly took steps to ensure that our nine markets across Northeast Ohio could go forward.

We immediately reached out to Governor DeWine and asked that our markets be deemed “essential retail.” He agreed. We reopened with our COVID protocol in place, encouraging handwashing, developing a pre-order system, increasing spacing to 6 feet between each vendor’s space, offering early senior shopping hours and requiring masks for shoppers, vendors and staff.

While enacting these protocols resulted in a significant increase in the time and cost of market set up and break down it felt more important than ever to ensure our communities could access healthy, local produce and that our farmers had a place to sell their products. Our intuition was right. Our 97 family farms we partner with not only remained financially solvent, some did better than ever. As one farmer explained to us, “If North Union hadn’t remained open we would have lost everything.”

However, to ensure social distance protocols we halved the number of stands at each market, resulting in a 40% drop in revenue for North Union. In a normal year, our vendor fees are a core source of organizational sustenance. Furthermore, we had to cancel our largest annual fundraiser and beloved community gathering, Cleveland Garlic Festival.

To sustain our work and ensure we can remain open in the communities we serve, we are asking for your support. Our markets are community meeting places and a crucial economic engine, connecting small farmers from 27 Ohio counties with customers, like you, that value their products.

Since we began our first market in Shaker Square 25 years ago our vision has been an accessible network of locally grown fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meats that can be enjoyed by all.

It is a pleasure to celebrate the abundance of Ohio farms and the entrepreneurship of our farmers through our nine markets week in and week out.

Your support, this year more than ever, will ensure that farmers across Ohio can keep doing what they do best – bringing the delights of fresh, healthy produce to our Northeast Ohio neighbors.

We thank you for your contribution.

Sincerely,

Donita Anderson

Executive Director