Print Farmers market turns into food drive
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 00:00

Once upon a time, there wasn’t such a thing as a supermarket.

Many people ate primarily what they grew or raised themselves, or at least locally produced food. It’s something people like Debra Emmanuelle would like communities to get back to.

Debra Emmanuelle, a coordinator with the Verde Food Council, was at the Camp Verde Farmers Market on Saturday, Aug. 28, for Share the Harvest Day. The market collected nonperishable food items to send to local food banks.Emmanuelle is a coordinator with the Verde Food Council, a group that would like to see fewer people in line at food banks in the area by becoming more dependent on locally grown food.

Those food banks are still an important resources for people across the Verde Valley, many of whom depend on these services to keep themselves and their families fed.

Emmanuelle was just one of several people set up Saturday, Aug. 28, at the Camp Verde Farmers Market, where visitors perused colorful displays of everything from okra to tomatoes.

While the farmer’s market is a familiar weekend attraction for those who like to buy locally, Saturday was special.

This food at the food banks that so many depend on doesn’t just materialize out of thin air.

Dubbed Share the Harvest Day, market manager Jane Davie said the farmer’s market was hosting a food drive to help keep the shelves of local food banks stocked.

“We’ve gotten some really good donations so far,” Davie said. “We just want to get the food to the people who need it.”

The food donations wasn’t the only goal of the day’s efforts.

Several local and regional groups, and businesses set up shop to help spread the “teach a man to fish” way of thinking, with advice on everything from starting a garden to tackling the problem of childhood obesity.

Emmanuelle said growing your own food is a common sense practice that seems to have largely fallen out of use.

“You can feed people from your backyard,” Emmanuelle said. “We just want to put the ‘green’ back into the Verde Valley.”

Emmanuelle estimates that around 11,000 people — 15 percent of the Verde Valley’s population — worry about making sure they have enough food to eat.

The current economic slowdown hasn’t helped matters, according to the food council, and food bank visits have skyrocketed.

In Camp Verde alone, one in four residents visited a food bank in 2008, and 62 percent of school children were enrolled in a free or reduced cost meal plan at school, according to food council data.

It’s numbers like these that Emmanuelle wants to do something about.

People need to eat, regardless of wether the food comes from a food bank, grocery store, farmers market or garden behind the house. It’s all about educating people about what resources are available, according to Emmanuelle.

“We just want to get food into the hands of the people who need it,” Emmanuelle said.