Friday, June 18, 2010

Bad Seed now accepts EBT cards and food stamps

Posted By on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 10:20 AM

click to enlarge The farmers' market run by Daniel Heryer and Brooke Salvaggio is now part of SNAP.
  • The farmers' market run by Daniel Heryer and Brooke Salvaggio is now part of SNAP.

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?

I

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

training. 

The

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?


We've

had only a handful of people use EBT thus far. But those who did were

able to buy bread, flour, vegetables, cheese, coffee beans - even

tomato plants to grow their own food. So they loved it.


We

haven't gotten the word out much yet. We hope to advertise to community centers, churches and

social service agencies if and when the growing season allows for it. There aren't enough hours in the day.


Do you see bringing fresh produce to residents of the city at all income levels as a part of your mission at Bad Seed?

No,

not really. We're not as interested in bringing people produce as we

are in having people view the land and their environment differently.

In the city, things are laid out with hard boundaries that we assume

we have to live within. Yet our basic needs are always at our

fingertips, with some work and creativity. 

We hope that Bad Seed exists

as the subtle (and, at times, not so subtle) reminder that we can live

well without buying much of anything. Brooke and I make an assortment

gourmet meals with flour, water, eggs, and whatever produce is in

season. And we grow most of it in a backyard. We'd like to see people

at all income and education levels choose to simplify their lives.

Beyond

that mission, we do believe that people of all income levels should be

able to afford healthy food that is ethically produced. It's

absolutely criminal that Happy Meals are cheaper than a head of cabbage. Also,

we do hope that the EBT program will diversify our customer base and

help bring Kansas City's very divided community together around

something we can all celebrate: good food.

What are the next steps for Bad Seed with regard to EBT?

We

will open a farm stand on our new farm next season, and we hope to

accept EBT there to broaden food access to the surrounding low-income

communities. But we also have much work to do in getting the word out

about the program as it exists currently.

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