The Route One Farmers Market, which takes place Sundays in Vandenberg Village, is now operating as a nonprofit organization, Market Manager Shelby Wild announced in August.
With support from the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization (LVCHO), another Lompoc-based nonprofit, Wild, who founded the market as a sole proprietor, filed an application in December and was notified in late June that the process had been approved, she said.
An organization earns its 501c3 IRS nonprofit status because it serves the public by furthering a social purpose and providing a public benefit. Unlike a regular for-profit business, a nonprofit is not owned by the person or group that started or manages it. Nonprofits commit to reinvesting in the community, and exist to carry out charitable, educational or civic goals not associated with making a profit. They play a vital role in building healthy communities by providing critical services that contribute to economic stability and mobility.
The mission of Route One Farmers Market is to increase access to local and sustainably grown food with a special focus on easing access to fresh and healthy local foods, and bridging barriers that hinder our low-income community from shopping at farmers markets.
“With our new status as a nonprofit operation, the board of directors and myself look forward to strengthening our collaboration with our professional partners, among them Santa Barbara County’s Cal Fresh Healthy Living office, UC Cal-Fresh Support and the Ecology Center of Berkeley, with whom we team for the Market Match Program,” Wild explained. “We’re excited to continue to grow our efforts in community food access and supporting local farmers.”
“As a smaller market we are thrilled with the feedback that shoppers are pleased with the options of goods and produce available, we really want to curate the amount, quality and variety of the market’s selection of produce, both to offer the best to our community and keep sales equitable for our vendors,” Wild said.
“The Board of Directors and myself welcome applications from prospective vendors,” she added. Applications are considered by the Board of Directors in relationship to alignment with the
Market’s mission and values.
In addition, Route One is implementing a more extensive and structured system of operations that reflects its compliance with the new nonprofit status. The Board of directors meets monthly
through virtual platforms.
Shortly after celebrating its one-year anniversary in May, Wild and the market’s Board of Directors learned that Route One was invited to participate in the Market Match program, and launched it at the market June 14.
Market Match doubles low-income shoppers’ benefits and allows them to buy more produce. In other words, if a customer spends $10 of his/her allotted benefit, each is given an additional $10 in market tokens/vouchers to spend on fresh fruits, vegetables.
Route One is the only market within a 67-mile stretch (between the cities of San Luis Obispo and Solvang) to accept both EBT and Market Match.
In the midst of a global pandemic, farmers markets — like all other small businesses — have been scrambling to continue operations for the farmers and communities that depend on them.
The Route One Farmers Market is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays at 3745 Constellation Rd.
Route One Farmers Market looks forward to serving the Lompoc Valley and Santa Barbara County community for many years. Route One can be contacted through social media platforms, and has a website forthcoming.