Modifications to the Trenton Farmer's Market
Location: Trenton, New Jersey, United States
Completion Date: March 2007
Summary of the HIA
Proposed Policy or Project
In the United States, a public market has been usually defined as a venue where vendors sell fresh food from open stalls. Public markets must have public goals which give a defined civic purpose to the activity including attracting individuals to the neighborhood, providing affordable retailing opportunities, utilizing farmland in the region, and using underused public spaced or renovating undesirable use of public space.Farmers’ markets and public markets in general can influence public health in a number positive ways. However, careful consideration must be given to: market location, outreach, vendor mix, and involvement from other community programs. The Trenton Farmers’ Market in particular has the potential to significantly benefit the health of area residents, especially in neighboring, under-served populations in central Trenton.
Background and Policy Context
The Trenton Farmers’ Market has been successfully operating for over fifty years. The buildings are old and in need of repair. The markets Executive Board is considering alternatives for revamping the market. In addition, the county Planning Department is examining ways in which the market’s revitalization can act as a catalyst for economic development of the surrounding area.
Recognizing the major disparities in health status, risk factors and food access between residents of Central Trenton and residents in outlying areas of Mercer County where the market is located, we developed a policy scenario (Market outreach/Improved access) to capture the full potential of the market to positively impact public health.
The Trenton Farmers’ Market, which is owned and operated by a board of farmer-vendors, is both a farmers’ market and a public market. Thus, the generic portions of this analysis that are extrapolated to analyses of other markets will be applied to those markets, which like Trenton are both public and farmers’ markets.
Scope and Methods
This HIA highlights the pathways through which farmers’ markets might impact health, examine supporting evidence, and identify strategies that this and other markets can utilize to maximize potential health benefits. After a thorough review of published reports and journal articles on public markets; consultations with technical experts, and meetings with Trenton Farmers’ Market stakeholders, we identified five major pathways through with changes in the market may impact the health in the affected populations:
- Physical activity
- Economics (vendors and surrounding community)
- Social Capital
- Public health services
The analysis is primarily qualitative, but yields some descriptive quantitative information as well.
Summary of Findings
As demonstrated by its long history, the Trenton Farmers’ Market is a valuable community asset. The community is beset by poor economic conditions and associated social problems resulting from the closure of many industries. Large health and economic gaps exist between the largely affluent suburban White population and low income, inner city African Americans. Helping the market realize its full potential to benefit the health and well being of residents will require the coordinated efforts of many community partners. Actions to help maximize the health benefits of the market include:
- Develop outreach mechanisms to bring the market to residents’ in Central Trenton, e.g. a satellite market or mobile market vans;
- Work with existing vendors and new farmer/vendors to expand the selection of fresh produce available in the market during more of the year;
- Improve the walking and biking infrastructure around the market to make it easier to walk or bike to from nearby residential areas and retail centers;
- Build on the success of the current market to catalyze economic growth by improving business and infrastructure linkages in the neighborhood.
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