With approximately 75 farmers’ markets operating in the state, the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association (NMFMA) plays a leading and critical role. Currently a state registered non-profit, the NMFMA provides invaluable education and resources to small farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.
For twenty years the NMFMA has supported the local New Mexico farming community. This includes resident farmers who distribute produce through farmers’ markets, as well as farmers who sell their wares via farm stands, U-picks and other forms of direct marketing.
Since 2005, Denise Miller has been at the helm as the Executive Director of the NMFMA. Leveraging her background in marketing, publishing and education, she decided to apply her skills to something closer to her heart and landed a position with the NMFMA.
One of the organization’s main goals is to educate the public about the benefits of eating local foods. The NMFMA also provide farmers’ markets with insurance, technical assistance, marketing tips and offers services and advice to any community in New Mexico interested in starting its own farmers’ market.
An equally important association goal is to enable low-income New Mexico residents to afford locally grown food and products. Through the New Mexico Department of Health, the NMFMA offers access to farmers’ markets through nutrition assistance programs for low-income women (Women Infant Child, WIC) and low-income seniors (Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, SFMNP). These programs provide vouchers for fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets throughout the state. Many farmers’ markets also accept payments provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
In addition to her work at the NMFMA, Denise has penned a column about local food for the Albuquerque Journal for the past nine years. The mother of three teenagers, Denise says it has been fun teaching her children about the benefits of eating locally grown food; “They understand that local food isn’t available all year long, but we do the best we can. During the peak season, we’ll make large batches of things and put them in the freezer – a lot of pesto or baba ganoush – whatever you can do, any way that you can store the food.”
The NMFMA website is a wonderful source of information regarding market locations and schedules, seasonal produce, recipes, videos with local chefs, and shopping tips. It also provides a list of markets that accept vouchers from income assistance programs. The association distributes a monthly newsletter that provides updates of events at farmers’ markets around the state. Many farmers’ markets are often in need of volunteers and Denise suggests contacting your local market directly if interested in helping.