“There’s so much more to this than just a market”Sarah Turner, Market Manager for the CYCFM
The Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market (CYCFG) is a year-round market that’s been serving, and meeting the needs, of the Midtown community for over 10 years.
Something I did not realize until my conversation with Am and Sarah, co-market managers, was that “community” is included in their name and in every single aspect of their operations. The name itself is indicative of Sarah’s statement, that this organization is more than just a market.
To Midtowners and Memphians alike, the market is an all-seasons staple, a spot to bring visitors, and a community asset.
The community-centric focus makes them unique. In addition to locally grown food, which is sold directly from the farmers themselves, CYCFM provides community booths and resources including HIV testing, COVID-19 vaccinations, HPV vaccinations, and more. They’ve launched a new initiative in partnership with the UT Extension Office for a food education booth for market-goers to utilize. The market also offers intentional programming like their Double Greens Program, which will match SNAP beneficiaries’ spending at the market dollar for dollar, doubling their buying power and increasing their ability to purchase fresh food.
“We really are a community resource. When people come to the market, they’re able to get more than just good food and access to local businesses.”
Like many nonprofits, CYCFM was born out of a need. Over 10 years ago, community members saw a gap in resources in their neighborhood. CYCFM’s reach grew as their mission solidified, and they’ve been meeting community needs since.
The mission of CYCFM is to provide the residents of Midtown and surrounding neighborhoods with a socially diverse, year-round marketplace that supports local farmers, producers and artisans. To foster good health, development and food security in our city CYCFM partners with local organizations to provide community outreach, health and wellness education, and access to affordable, nutritious food.
And like many nonprofits, volunteers are critical. There are shifts every Saturday for market set up, general support, and market breakdown. Volunteering can be hanging out in the information booth, taking inventory, folding t-shirts, or assisting customers. Volunteering can be something as simple as relieving a vendor while they take a short break or as in-depth as talking with the market folks about food justice.
For the CYCFM staff, offering volunteers the chance to choose and to get what they want out of it is key to their volunteer program and to their mission. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure (choose-your-own-advendor, if you will) type of opportunity.
If you are interested in food justice, food insecurity, farm-to-table approaches to cooking and eating, or community development and sustainability, consider getting involved with the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market.
How to support the market and stay up-to-date:
- Join the CYCFM weekly newsletter
- Featuring that week’s lineup of vendors and any relevant information, including special events or volunteer needs
- Join the CYCFM page on Volunteer Odyssey
- Show support by donating
- Donate directly to the Double Greens Program– the CYCFM program that doubles the amount SNAP beneficiaries spend at the market dollar for dollar. When an individual comes to the CYCFM Market booth to run their SNAP card for tokens, which are then used to purchase approved items from vendors, this program allows the market to double their token allotment. $20 worth of tokens we will give them an additional $20 in tokens or $40 total to spend at the market.
- Sponsor the market (alongside Memphis Made Brewing, First Congo, TN Arts Commission, and Arts Memphis)
- Rep the market by buying a tee-shirt
- Visit the market EVERY Saturday
Dannon Thornton is the Director of Community Engagement at Volunteer Odyssey. She graduated from the University of Memphis where she spent lots of time falling in love with the city through volunteering. You can contact her at email@example.com.