Recognized by Tennessee Rural Development Committee for Many Contributions


Tennessee Community and Agricultural Development Award, 2016, truncated

Shown above, left to right: TSU Representative Roy Bullock, USDA RD State Director Bobby Goode, TDA Assistant Commissioner Ed Harlan, Ginny Lundell, Theresa Gregory, USDA NRCS’s John Rissler, David Lundell, USDA FSA State Executive Director Gene Davidson and Hickman County Director for UT Extension Troy Dugger​. Full photo includes additional officials (click here to download) from left to right: TDA Commissioner Julius Johnson, TSU Associate Dean of Extension Latif Lighari, TSU Representative Roy Bullock, USDA RD State Director Bobby Goode, TDA Assistant Commissioner Ed Harlan, Ginny Lundell, Theresa Gregory, USDA NRCS’s John Rissler, David Lundell, USDA FSA State Executive Director Gene Davidson and Hickman County Director for UT Extension Troy Dugger​. Photo courtesy USDA RD.

The Farmer’s Market at River Park in Centerville, Hickman County, received the Community and Agricultural Development Award today by the Tennessee Rural Development Committee. The Farmer’s Market was recognized for the progress it has made since 2007 with increasing farm income, improving the environment, promoting economic development, conserving natural resources and improving facilities and services.

TRDC Chair and USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Goode presented the award to representatives of the Farmer’s Market at the 2nd Annual Hickman County Agriculture Appreciation Breakfast. The representatives accepted the honor on behalf of many local vendors, organizations and leaders who helped turn the Farmer’s Market into a success for the community.

“Every community needs a local farmer’s market that can supply fresh produce at reasonable prices,” Goode said. “The Farmer’s Market at River Park has played a huge role in Hickman County where 34 percent of the population has limited access to healthy foods. Therefore, the increase in local vendors brings more variety of products to the Market, which ultimately creates more customers who contribute to making a positive economic impact for the vendors.”

With an initial desire to promote local produce and improve the diet and nutrition of citizens in Hickman County, the Farmer’s Market applied and received a $25,000 grant from the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program in 2007. This money was used to construct an open-air pavilion to house the Farmer’s Market.

However, the Farmer’s Market at River Park had humble beginnings. The Market struggled to find enough vendors, oftentimes no more than four each year, and found business difficult to attract customers because the number of vendors was not present. Additionally, people were not willing to pay for fresh local produce items. After teaming up with the Hickman County Health Department to develop promotional events to highlight local nutritious foods, the Farmer’s Market fought its battles and gained over 400 attendees over the last two summers, and the number of paid vendors rose from four in 2007 to 28 in 2015.

“This farmer’s market is the epitome of what great teamwork, commitment, positive attitudes and endless support looks like,” Goode said. “Despite the Market’s early challenges, the united campaign among the Farmer’s Market, Hickman County Extension and the Hickman County Health Department successfully expanded the market through advertising to recruit new vendors.”

Today, the Farmer’s Market has its own branded logo and is named a “Bright Spot” by the Tennessee Department of Health’s Primary Prevention Initiative. In addition, the Market now has an “adopt-a-class” program with local elementary schools to start healthy, fresh food education at a young age. The Market has partnerships with dieticians from the health department who provide information on healthier food choices and healthy recipe selections which helped the Market develop a “Veggie Trails” newsletter and walking program.

TRDC includes the state heads of the USDA: Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Forestry Service, Animal and Plant health Inspection Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service; and state agencies including the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Tennessee State University Extension and University of Tennessee Extension.

Others participating in the award ceremony include TDA Commissioner Julius Johnson, TDA Assistant Commissioner Ed Harlan, Hickman County Director – UT Extension Troy Dugger, TSU Associate Dean of Extension Latif Lighari, TSU Representative Roy Bullock, Farmer’s Market Representatives Ginny Lundell, Theresa Gregory and David Lundell, USDA NRCS’s John Rissler and USDA FSA State Executive Director Gene Davidson.

USDA Rural Development is moving investments to rural America with housing, business and infrastructure loans and grants to create jobs and strengthen rural economies with an emphasis to assist areas of persistent poverty.  Since 2009, the agency has assisted more than 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 230 communities in all 95 counties of Tennessee, investing more than $6.6 billion through affordable loans, loan guarantees, and grants.

For more information on USDA Rural Development programs available in Southwest Tennessee contact the Lawrenceburg Area Office at 931-762-3149 x 4.  Visit us online at www.rd.usda.gov/TN.

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