Salem Farmers’ Market, in North Central Arkansas, is open every Saturday morning from the first part of spring through late fall. The area which was once was known as a “fresh food desert” is now a place families can access fresh fruits and veggies, buy locally grown produce and enhance the local economy. In case fresh food wasn’t enticing enough, Salem’s local community bank knew just how to attract local residents to the market: free produce!
The Bank of Salem, which is located in Salem, Arkansas, is a sponsor of the market, by providing space for vendors and signage. However the bank provides something more substantial to five community members and multiple vendors each week. The Bank of Salem Farmers’ Market Voucher Program began in July 2012 and provides five customers each week with $10 market vouchers.
“Our employees wanted to do something to help support the new Farmers’ Market,” Mary Sanders, marketing director at the Bank of Salem, said. “We had provided signs and a location for them to set up; however, we wanted a way to give to the community and help increase foot traffic for the vendors and local merchants. From that idea the Bank of Salem Voucher Program was formed.”
The Bank of Salem sets out boxes in its three branch locations for customers to enter their names in to win one of the five $10 vouchers. Winners have driven from all ends of Fulton County to come to Salem’s Farmers’ Market just to use their vouchers and get their hands on fresh, local, free produce, courtesy of the bank. Since the contest began, the bank has given out nearly $600 to be used at the market.
Aside from all of the phenomenal efforts of keeping our local economy thriving, the Farmers’ Market also helps Fulton County residents to have a bigger sense of community pride. Residents are also encouraged to spend a little more time downtown, shopping at local small businesses and taking their deposits over to the Bank of Salem.
Tell us about your community’s farmers market! Are you a community bank who sponsors a market in your town? Let us know! We’re always encouraging people to bank local, dine local and shop local.
Each Friday this May, be on the lookout for Go Local’s Friday Farmers Market posts. We’re highlighting the great works community banks from across the country do with their local markets.