Beyond calories and currency: exploring the impacts of a farmers market coupon program on more-than-food-security
LE3 .A278 2022
Bachelor of Community Development
This undergraduate thesis explores the impacts of a farmers market coupon program on folks for whom their local market may not otherwise be accessible (such as people with low incomes). The Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Program is a provincially funded program, that, in 2021 reached over 500 households across 27 farmers markets in Nova Scotia, Canada. Through an “anonymous”, reoccurring coupon system, folks can purchase whatever they wish at the farmers market, over a period of at least 6 months (or the length of a market season). Through 61 semi-structured interviews spanning 12 diverse farmers markets, the impacts and experiences of the Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Program were investigated. Findings showed that participants in the program experience it in vastly different ways, albeit mostly positively/constructively. The impacts and experiences of the program in the eyes of participants, extended far beyond a method of food provision, and served to enhance people’s sense of belonging, social/emotional wellbeing, security, citizenship, quality of life, self-efficacy, and awareness of local-global systems; as well as materially nourished connections with people, places, and things that may have otherwise not been made possible. Participants also stated that the program contributed to the social and economic fabric of their communities, which in turn may strengthen community and ecological resilience. In experiencing the farmers market, participants may have also been exposed to new ways of ecological thinking and relational experiencing, which may have the potential to provoke small interruptions to potentially harmful aspects of neoliberal and anthropocentric thinking, knowing, structuring, and experiencing the world. As such, this paper puts forth the notion of more-than-food-security, through which programs such as this can be understood, grappled with, and celebrated. This paper also provides recommendations and good practices which can inform the development of the current program, as well as motivate a reimagining and proliferation of farmers markets coupon programs (and other food justice/sovereignty and broader community work), elsewhere.
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