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How Flint's Farmers' Market Connected With Low-Income Shoppers

Before the city became infamous for its water, residents struggled with access to healthy food. One change made a big difference.
The Flint Farmers' Market in its old location.
The Flint Farmers' Market in its old location. Flickr/Michigan Municipal League

Deserved or not, farmers’ markets haven’t always had the best reputation for drawing a diverse clientele. Those locally grown carrots and sweet potatoes are often perceived as coming at a price premium. And markets been criticized for targeting affluent neighborhoods, with little consideration of transit accessibility.

But customer bases are shifting. Research shows that farmers’ markets that accept food assistance benefits and create bonus incentives can encourage more purchases from low-income customers. And a new study on Flint, Michigan, suggests that to attract customers from across the income and racial spectrum, location is also crucial.