River Valley Farmer’s Market
River Valley Farmer’s Market aims to increase access to local fresh food, promote local businesses, promote physical activity, support community engagement, provide health education, and connect families to needed services.
The River Valley Farmer’s Market combines food sales with health promotion in a new way. The Farmer’s Market includes access to fruit and vegetable vendors, baked goods, prepared healthy foods, arts and crafts, community health service representatives, immunizations, dental information, tobacco cessation services, learning and movement games for children, parent support activities, acceptance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and participation in the Double Your Dollars program. Walking is encouraged by closing the street to car traffic and allowing dogs.
The market is held in the evenings during the months of August and September. The program serves the residents of Big Horn County and the Crow Reservation area. This community has seen attendance grow to an average of 250 to 300 visitors each week. In 2017, the Farmer’s Market had grown to 24 vendors and public service providers participating.
Major partners and funders of this program are Big Horn Valley Health Center, Healthy Hardin Community Development Partnership (HHCDP), Rural Health Initiative, City of Hardin, First Interstate BancSystem Foundation, Big Horn Hospital Association, Big Horn County Health Department, Bighorn Industries, Lift Program Hardin School District Food Corps, Big Horn County and City/County Planning Board, and Two Rivers Authority.
The River Valley Farmer’s Market attributes their success to their partnership with the Healthy Hardin Community Development Partnership. This was created as a direct result of the community health needs assessment conducted by the local hospital. This assessment identified multiple health issues in the community including high rates of obesity and diabetes and a lack of opportunities to be physically active. They also attribute success to seeking the community’s input in planning and refining the event each year through phone surveys.
When asked to provide advice for others, Shelly Sutherland of the Big Horn Valley Health Center said, “Start with a core group of committed people who have successfully worked together in the past and are action-focused. It is easier to attract new energy to an established effort. Creating a shared vision takes time, passion, and a positive outlook.”
For more information about this program, contact Jessica Mussetter at (406)294-0047.
Farmer’s markets are beneficial for the whole community in many ways. They allow small farms to grow and thrive in the community, stimulate the local economy, provide jobs, increase access to fresh and nutritious food, and promote sustainability. The produce here are the freshest and are typically considered better tasting than the produce at grocery stores. It can also be more exciting for kids. It allows community members to socialize and get active by walking around the market. This also provides a setting to share recipes and learn more about health and nutrition.