From its beginnings in 1978, the North Coast Growers Association (NCGA) has expanded from a handful of farmers who organized themselves to sell local produce in the community, to coordinating about 100 members and five weekly farmers markets, including the first year-round market on the Arcata Plaza.
Portia Bramble, Executive Director, became involved through research for her master’s program at Humboldt State University. Her attention to community needs and requests has contributed to the growth of the farmers markets in the area and the growth of the NCGA. In addition to organizing weekly farmers markets, the NCGA mediates between the county compliance inspector and the members of the organization, informing farmers on requirements and regulations set by Certified Farmer’s Market standards in California and ensuring that local farmers markets are following these regulations.
A recent success of the NCGA includes their Market Match program, a State-wide partnership which provides incentive for participants in programs such as Cal-Fresh, WIC (Women, Infants and Children), and senior nutrition, to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the local farmers markets. As of now, only 60% of Humboldt County residents who are eligible for food assistance are actually using the programs; but that involvement is growing each year. The Market Match program’s goal is to encourage more consumption of fruits and vegetables for low income families by enabling participants of these programs to access nutrition they need. Partnering with community members and various agencies allows the NCGA to continue building sustainable programs. These partnerships also allow the NCGA to maintain a strong voice in the community, advocating for protection of agricultural lands and continuing the local food movement.