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Friends of The Olney Farmers and Artists Market

Mission Statement

Friends of the Olney Farmers and Artists Market is the charitable and educational arm of the Market.  It is dedicated to serving the underserved members of the Olney area community.  Friends of the Market is also dedicated to fighting obesity in our area.

Our Market is on a mission to get our community healthy permanently; to fight childhood obesity and to make sure customers in need are able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at a low cost.  This year, we are sponsoring 6 fundraising dinners, called "From Farm to Fabulous".  The funds will be used for the same purpose as the Farm to Table Dinners we sponsored for the past three years.  Those funds went to help our neediest customers at the Market.  Any customer who had lost a job or who had suffered another financial setback was given a voucher, so that they could double the amount of fresh produce they bought.  In other words, if a customer in need bought $10 worth of fresh produce, the farmer would actually hand them $20 worth of the produce instead.  The farmer would then come to the Market information booth to get reimbursed. We also used the funds from the dinners to support our educational programs in our Children's Tent.  We buy fresh produce every Sunday for the tent, so that children can not only learn and taste it, they also use the produce to make collages. Some funds went to supplying books and educational puzzles.  We also used funds for our Children's Day activities. Those included getting a nutritionist to take the children shopping around the Market; then teaching them how to make their own healthy lunches.


Some customers who come to the Market have been so much in need that sometimes, we simply take them shopping to the farmers ourselves and foot the bill, using funds from our dinners.


Funds are also used to purchase tents for non-profit community tents. For instance, we gave a free tent and table to the organizers of the non-profit, Jeremy's Run, which raises money to help teens struggling with drug addiction.  We have also provided tents for Race for the Cure, Relay for Life and a non-profit that helps seniors remain in their homes, instead of moving into assisted living.


We also use funds to support homemakers, who are trying to start businesses.  As long as the local health department approves, we allow these homemakers to sell brownies, cookies and certain cakes from one of our tents. We also supply the tables and the health department set-up.


We use funds for our chef's tent, where we offer healthy recipes and hands-on learning for our community.  Funds are also for fitness activities in our Be Fit, Be Well tent.


We also provide a tent to Manna, the local food bank, every week.  The volunteers assist in collecting tens of thousands of pounds of fresh produce that are sent directly to the food bank; then distributed to hungry citizens in Montgomery County, Maryland.


The Market has guidelines in place to ensure that funds that are raised go toward helping the neediest members of the community.  Our board members interview everyone who applies for a community tent, before accepting them.


This season, for the first time, we will start a program, called Olney Farmers and Artists Market Delivers.  We plan to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to the homes of seniors and other citizens who are unable to get to the Market, due to disabilities or other issues.


We are also participating in the 'Farm to Freezer' program for the first time.  Since not all of the produce we send to the Manna Food bank can be eaten right away, the produce will now be sorted at the Market into groups of foods that can be frozen for future use.  We will use our volunteers to assist our farmers in sorting the items.


 The Market has numerous tent needs, but these are all for helping struggling citizens get an economic boost.  We also want to do all we can to promote activities that benefit groups that fight cancer, drug addiction and similar vital health issues.  Our music tent is provided free of charge as a way to help struggling musicians looking for an outlet in our community.  After playing at the Market, some of these musicians have been able to find 'real' paying jobs.  That is one of our goals.  We also want to encourage students to test their talents at the Market. We provide the sound system and set-up.  All they have to do is show up and play.


Our sales of Market buttons also went to our fund for doubling the amount of produce a needy customer can get. We do not plan to continue the button sales in future. Umbrellas are used on the hottest days of summer for our customers, so they can spend quality time with their families.  Also, we do have some customers with no air conditioning in their homes.  This provides them a bit of a respite.


Friends of the Olney Farmers and Artists Market is the charitable and educational arm of the Market.  It is dedicated to serving the underserved members of the Olney area community.  Friends of the Market is also dedicated to fighting obesity in our area.

Here is a list of some of the ways Friends of the Olney Farmers and Artists Market is carrying out its missions:

  • Partners with Manna, the local food bank.  Friends of the Market assists Manna in collecting tens of thousands of pounds of fresh produce for the needy.  For the first time,  Friends of the Market is also participating in a "Farm to Freezer" program.  Some of the produce that isn't eaten right away is frozen for the future; then distributed to the needy.

  • Partners with Aunt Hatties Foster Home and Our House, a home for juvenile delinquents in Brookeville, MD.   We provide a free tent for Aunt Hattie's foster boys and the boys at Our House, who are being trained to be carpenters.  Many of the boys are one step away from prison.  We provide an opportunity for them to sell the amazing woodwork they've produced. We also sometimes hire the boys to assist at the Market.  The experience gives the boys a sense of self-worth and also encourages them to become productive members of the community.

  • Friends of the Olney Market provides Community tents and tables, so home bakers can sell goods they've baked in their home kitchens.  Many of the people who use our community tables are unemployed.  This gives them a new outlet to a small amount of money and also to begin a new career. We also provide non-profits with free community tables. This include the local Boys and Girls club and other similar organizations working for charitable purposes.

  • Friends of the Olney Market offers an educational Children's tent. Children sample fresh produce; then use it to make all kinds of crafts.  On Children's Day, every August, we bring in a nutritionist to teach our children to make healthy lunches. The children go shopping for fresh produce with the nutritionist; then enjoy the bounty.

  • Friends of the Market offers a free "Be Fit, Be Well" Tent. We ask fitness and health experts all over town to donate a few hours of their time to getting our community health permanently.  Our activities include yoga, zumba, acupuncture, jump-roping and all kinds of other exercises.  We also conduct bike rides and runs to the Market. This year, our Be Fit tent will include free dental screenings for the first time. We recognize that many children in our area have never been to the dentist.

  • Friends of the Market partners with Medstar Montgomery General hospital.  We are working with the hospital to secure fresh produce for patients, instead of highly processed foods.

  • Friends of the Market partners with the Sandy Spring Museum.  We work with the Museum to develop all kinds of educational programs and activities for children.