USDA Spends $51,000 To ‘Integrate Art Into Farmers Markets’

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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Two farmers markets in Kentucky may have more art and music thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA has awarded $51,000 to the Kentucky Arts Council in order to “integrate art” into farmers markets, according to a news release from the USDA Tuesday.

The Arts Council will use the taxpayer money to equip local artists “enormous talent” gain the technical knowledge “required to sell their work at farmers markets,” Thomas Fern, state director for the USDA’s Kentucky Rural Development office, said in the statement.

“Discovering unique skill sets inside these counties, and determining how those skills can be used, provides the potential to generate revenue from sales,” Lori Meadows, director of the Kentucky Arts Council, said.

As outdoor community gatherings, farmers markets have long been synonymous with local arts. Painters and craftsmen have set up booths to sell their wares alongside local farmers for decades, but the USDA wants to make sure the artists and farmers are being entrepreneurial.

According to Meadows, “it makes sense to pair local artists, entrepreneurs in their own right, with farmers markets to broaden the reach of those essential community gatherings,” she said in the statement.

The grant money will be used to train artists to better sell their work within the farmers market space. “Artists will receive training on how to effectively market and price their work, ensuring grant money is utilized to price products competitively and available for consumers,” Meadows said.

Artists who receive the Arts Council’s assistance will be paired with other vendors to help showcase the food sold at the farmers market. Artists could assist vendors by “designing labels for products or enhancing signage for booths,” or by creating a “unique theme and brand for sellers” or “an innovative look to attract more buyers to the product,” the USDA press release says.

The current grant was awarded through the Rural Development program, but the USDA expects to spend around $13 million this year to promote the farmers markets around the country in an effort to improve diets of low-income people.(RELATED: Gov’t Spends Half A Million On ‘Culturally-Appropriate’ Food Stamps)

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