Rarely have the problems of farm closures and empty downtown storefronts been addressed in the comprehensive manner in which they have been approached through the Meadville Market House Sustainability Project, according to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
PEC’s final report on the Meadville Market House project notes that small farms in the central French Creek valley were struggled economically at the same time the area’s largest community, Meadville, was also declining.
The key was to link the numerous economically struggling small agricultural producers with the potentially large local market by growing the Market House into an economically sustainable farmer’s market that is a keystone of a regional, secure food system.
The report concluded, “By taking this distinctive producer-market view toward problem-solving, PEC has positively impacted the long-term environmental and economic sustainability of the region, especially the sustainability of the region’s downtown centers such as Meadville and the valley’s working farms. By effectively managing the Market House, PEC has helped local farmers utilize that vibrant market for their produce, and given shoppers ready access to healthy, fresh, delicious locally grown foods.”
By reaching these shorter term goals, the project laid the groundwork for four longer-term goals:
A regional food system that is ecologically sound and economically viable
- Heretofore-unavailable access for low-income persons living near the Market House to easily obtain fresh, and locally and sustainably produced food
- A regional food system founded upon the principles of affordability, cultural responsiveness, encouraging nutritional and healthy eating habits, and fighting hunger among low-income persons
- Downtown Meadville economic revitalization.