by Andy Naja-Riese
Dear Grand Lake Farmers Market Supporters:
Our markets have weathered wildfires and power outages in the past year and now, the COVID-19 crisis. Now, in this pandemic, when having access to quality food is critical, we are, as-always on the frontline of feeding our communities. Farmers markets are keeping people nourished and farmers in business.
We, at the Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM) are literally working around the clock to ensure that our seven certified farmers markets, including the Grand Lake Farmers Market, remain open and in total compliance with all COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Through our lobbying efforts, we convinced the state to designate farmer’s markets as an essential business in these troubled times.
Because our local food system is essential.
To ensure our markets continue to remain open, we have established the Farmers Market Assistance Fund with a goal of $150k. AIM is a dependable link in the farm-to-family food chain, and your support helps keep our markets staffed and open, by adhering to strict safety and hygiene standards, and by continuing to offer new and creative food initiatives to serve the financially disadvantaged throughout Oakland, Marin, Hayward, Newark, and San Francisco.
As the current crisis unfolded, we moved quickly to develop or re-focus key programs to keep the local food system intact while getting food to the most vulnerable. Those efforts have included:
- Creating a lifeline for 183 small farmers, ranchers, fishers, and food purveyors to continue selling to the public at our essential farmers markets;
- Continuing to serve low income folks by distributing more than $18,000 in CalFresh (food stamp) program benefits, along with an additional $13,000 in Market Match supplements to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers;
- Launching our curbside Bounty Box program and distributing over 375 weekly food boxes through contactless pickup while increasing sales for small farmers who lost their restaurant accounts.
We were only able to initiate these innovative programs during this crisis, with your help. Charitable donations provide the financial flexibility that allows us to connect farmers to eaters, even in times of social distancing. AIM is one of the few non-profit farmers market operators in the Bay Area, the state, and even nationally to keep 100% of our markets in operation. Peers across the state and nationally have contacted us for guidance, and our work was featured in Bloomberg News, ABC News, KQED, and more.
Would you be willing to make a generous gift to our Farmers Markets Assistance Fund? You can make your secure donation today at: https://www.agriculturalinstitute.org/donate
Our friends at the Marin Community Foundation provided $25,000 to help us launch the Farmers Market Assistance Fund, and since then we’ve raised an additional $21,500 from Bank of America, the Oakland As, and Ruth Stroup Farmers Insurance to support our work across Oakland and the Bay Area. Now we need your help. This is the time to make the most-generous gift you can afford to help us continue to keep our neighbors safe and healthy. Your gift helps to sustain our struggling farmers while maintaining a high standard of nutrition during this health crisis.
Your gift would allow us to put the funds towards where they are needed most, expanding Bounty Box distribution, and maintaining essential food spaces for farmers and producers to continue to feed and nourish the Bay Area.
Stay healthy and well,
Chief Executive Officer
Agricultural Institute of Marin tax identification number: 86-1156712
Your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Champions for farmers, food access & education in Alameda, Marin and SF
Editor’s Note: Andy Naja-Riese is the CEO of the Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM) a non-profit that supports farmers, food access, and education to create a healthier food culture across the Bay Area. Andy leads all of AIM’s strategy and operations along with a wonderful team of managers, staff, and Board of Directors. AIM operates 8 farmers markets, including the Grand Lake Farmers Market, along with a mobile farmers market, nutrition safety net programs, educational programs, and policy-advocacy for small farmers and food makers. Andy’s goal is to ensure that AIM cultivates a climate-friendly and equitable food system where local and responsible producers can participate in essential food spaces that serve the shopping public. Andy is deeply committed to ensuring the markets provide community benefits to all. Andy lives in San Rafael with his husband, Gary, and rescue dog, Mac, and enjoys cooking, gardening, and finding the best bagels across the Bay Area.