Shoppers expect selection and value everywhere — even at a farmers’ market. This isn’t always easy for small farms and food entrepreneurs to offer. However, visitors to Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network (GFMN) markets are now enjoying more fresh, local food options than ever before thanks to the network’s Production Opportunities Program.

The Production Opportunities Program offers farmers the chance to apply for between $500 and $2,000 of matching funding to help them pursue new projects for their businesses. The goal is simple: expand the offerings to customers at GFMN markets and help farmers and food entrepreneurs build more sustainable businesses with improved quality of products, increased production efficiency, and extended seasonal availability.

“We want to see our farmers thrive,” says Anne Freeman of the GFMN. “Not just barely get by.”

The opportunities farmers are pursuing are just as unique as they are. Some Production Opportunities Program participants have invested in greenhouse or storage upgrades to extend their selling season. Others have added value to their food products by reducing waste or creating prepared foods. Even though the investment is small, Freeman says it can make a big impact.
“There are all these small improvements happening that add up to a better experience when you go to markets,” she says. “You get more choice, more fun, and more things that you might not expect to find.”