Kinder Institute’s Urban Health Program creates guide to Houston farmers markets

To highlight the availability of fresh produce in Houston, the Urban Health Program at Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research is developing a comprehensive guide to farmers markets within the city of Houston.

The report, “A Guide on Local Agriculture for Houstonians,” is based on a field project conducted with a number of farmers markets, co-ops and other local agriculture initiatives in Houston.

“Our goal is to provide a background on farmers markets and other locally run sources of fresh produce within metropolitan Houston (within Beltway 8), to focus on food access for neighborhoods in poverty and to provide a central map of these efforts that can be regularly updated,” said Sarita Panchang, a postbaccalaureate fellow in the Department of Sociology at Rice and the Urban Health Program’s assistant.

The report comes a few months after the federal government’s decision to spend $4 million to help bring together farmers and low-income customers.

New research demonstrates that farmers markets where Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) benefits can be redeemed have higher sales,” said Rachel Tolbert Kimbro, director of the Urban Health Program and an associate professor of sociology at Rice. “We also wanted our report to highlight those markets where SNAP benefits can be used here in Houston.”

The project was conducted over two months and involved Internet research as well as field work and direct discussions with market managers. The full report is available online athttp://kinder.rice.edu/urbanhealth and includes background information for consumers on local agriculture, complete market descriptions and references. Although the guide does not yet include all Houston farmers markets, the program hopes to build on the findings and grow the list in the future.

The Kinder Institute’s Urban Health Program is dedicated to fostering community and academic partnerships surrounding issues of health, health care, education and community planning by highlighting how urban areas can create barriers as well as opportunities for the health of their citizens.

About Amy Hodges

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.