Sewanee Community Chest Spotlight: South Cumberland Farmer’s Market

The 2017-18 Sewanee Community Chest (SCC) Fund Drive is underway. Sponsored by the Sewanee Civic Association, the SCC raises money yearly for local charitable organizations serving the area. This year’s goal will help local organizations that have requested basic needs funding for quality of life, community aid, children’s programs, and those who are beyond Sewanee but still serve our entire community. Currently, $85,000 of the goal has been raised in donations and pledges.

This week we shine the spotlight on the South Cumberland Farmer’s Market.

The South Cumberland Farmer’s Market (SCFM) is an organization of farmers and agricultural producers who work together to facilitate and expand the sales of local products; provide education and support to farmers and consumers; and lay the groundwork for a just, equitable, and sustainable local food economy.  The vision of the SCFM is to create a vibrant local food economy that provides prosperity to farmers and rural communities and increases access to fresh, healthy, local food for everyone.

More than 60 farm/producer families are registered growers who benefit economically by selling through the SCFM. An average of 50 customer families a week have access to reasonably priced, fresh locally grown food by purchasing through the SCFM. It’s not uncommon for small farmers and producers who get their start at the market to expand their business to wholesale customers.  Two examples are the Bread Peddler whose baked goods are now available at the Piggly Wiggly and elsewhere and Brown’s Hollar Creations, which is now a source for eggs purchased by University Food Services.

SCFM is requesting $1,000 to aid in maintaining the market manager’s pay at a level comparable to minimum wage. The SCFM was established in 2007 on a nonprofit model. The market manager is the only paid employee. Volunteers contribute nearly 100 hours a month to facilitate the operation of the market. In 2012, SCFM was refused nonprofit status by the state of Tennessee because the market’s primary mission is not charitable or educational, but rather to increase the sales base for local farmers and provide the community with fresh, locally grown food. In 2013, the market began assessing farmers a 3 percent fee on all sales to pay a market manager. As of September 1, 2016, SCFM had no market manager due to the low wage, and was in danger of closing. To make the market manager position more attractive, SCFM scaled back the market manager’s responsibilities and raised the market manager’s wage slightly by increasing the fee assessed to farmers to 4 percent. With the combination of reduced duties and generous Community Chest gift, the market manager now earns over $8 per hour.

Since 1908, the goal of the Sewanee Community Chest has been to help citizens by funding the community. Through Community Chest donations, local organizations provide for basic needs in the community such as books, food, recreational spaces, elder care, children’s educational needs and more. The Sewanee Community Chest is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and donations are tax-deductible. Send your donation to Sewanee Community Chest, P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375.


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