The Bad Seed Farmers Market (1909 McGee, 4 to 9 p.m. Fridays through November 19) has begun accepting electronic benefit transfer payments. The market is now part of the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.
Brooke Salvaggio started the farm in 2007 on a 2.5-acre plot of land at 1201 West Bannister Road. She was joined at Bad Seed by her husband, Daniel Heryer, in 2009. Fat City talked to Heryer between attempts to save his root vegetables and prayers that his tomato plants will survive the latest rain storms.
How did the idea of accepting EBT payments come about?
hadn't seen food stamps used at farmers markets until I began working
for a Pennsylvania orchard. That orchard went to market in Baltimore
and Washington, D.C., two cities that have widely used food stamps at
farmers markets for some time. There, they were using actual checks
that were redeemable for $3 worth of produce. I worked at one D.C. market
in particular for two years. The first year they didn't accept food
stamps. The next year they did.
The transition was quite
remarkable. Suddenly people of every color and walk of life could
access the fruit we offered. It improved access to the food immensely,
but it also generated more sales for each farmer. It was pretty much a
win for everyone, except maybe for the bank, who had to process a ton
of $3 checks.
What led you to this decision now?
We've actually wanted
to do this. We actually tried to enroll in a similar program last
season, but the program was poorly funded and even more poorly
administered. That program required our market to be much larger than
it is, and required each farmer to apply separately and attend a
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is much easier for our
small business. We do the minimal administrative work, yet all the
vendors at our market can participate. If we had known about the
program, we would have done it sooner.
What's been the response so far?