How Does A Farmer's Market Accept Credit, Debit or EBT Cards? Info Inside! - A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss

How Does A Farmer’s Market Accept Credit, Debit or EBT Cards? Info Inside!

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Just like I wrote, a while back, that I like to visit grocery stores in different areas – you know, just to see what they offer and how it differs from my own home store – I like to do the same for farmer’s markets. Whereas my market in Miami Beach had dragonfruit, lychee, plantains, cassava and limes galore; my market in Indiana had a thousand different kinds of corn (I’m Midwestern-raised. I like my corn!), zucchini, tons of apples and, really, all the leafy greens I could want.

This year, I got to add a new handful to my list, because New York City has so many (no, really – there are over 60!) Lots of the same stuff as my market in Indy, but here, they have something new that I’d never seen before.

No, it wasn’t a fruit, vegetable or meat, but it was just as compelling:

“Tokens accepted here! Food stamp (EBT)/Debit/Credit Tokens now welcome here. Choose fresh. Buy local. Use your card.”

Now, this was interesting. My farmer’s market in Miami was run by one individual who collected and distributed the produce for the farmers themselves. It simplified things, because that meant that one person handled the checkout. It was easy to just get a card swiper. However, my market in Indy wasn’t the same – 40 vendors, and very few of them bothered with cards. You were basically expected to arrive with cash. This, though? This was interesting.

As soon as I saw the sign (and it opened up my eyes), I took off running to an info booth where I could find out more information.

Here’s how the system works:

You go up to the information booth (even if your farmer’s market isn’t a part of a giant system such as the NYC Greenmarkets, it should have an info booth. Someone’s got to be putting it on.), card in hand. You tell them how much you want in tokens, in increments of $1s and $5s. They swipe your card and, upon approval, you are given your dollar amount in tokens. The difference between EBT tokens and credit/debit card tokens is the fact that debit/credit tokens can be exchanged for cash; EBT tokens can only have their value returned to the EBT card.

Your tokens act as cash at the market. With EBT tokens, you can purchase vegetables, dairy, fish, poultry, bread, fruits, baked goods like breads and muffins, jams and jellies, syrups, honey, seeds and meats. The tokens never expire, and can be saved for the next visit to the farmer’s market if one so chooses. At the end of the day, farmers exchange their tokens for cash at the information booth with the market’s manager.

You have to admit, this is a pretty ingenious way to do business. Finding a way to bring in card users and SNAP recipients only benefits the farmers that much more because its more money going into their pockets. Even better, it’s more money being spent locally in their own communities. What’s more, you also are encouraging (in some cases) the underprivileged to get in on all the fruit and veggie action – it’s much fresher, tastes better, is oftentimes less expensive and they can get tips from the farmers on how to actually cook their purchases.

Now, I’m curious – does your farmer’s market use this system for accepting card purchases? If not, what system do they use, if they have a system at all? (And if they don’t, feel free to send them this post!)

And, as always, visit LocalHarvest.org for more information on farmer’s markets near you!

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She now lives in New York with her family, and is working on her 4th, 5th and 6th certificates.

19 Comments

  1. Melissa

    November 14, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    I am so GLAD you wrote this. I live in NYC and always pass the farmer’s market up because I typically never have cash. At most, I’ll have $2 or so and always want to visit but pass it by and go to my supermarket. Can you say gamechanger!!!!! I get to avoid the extra cost of whole foods, support local business and keep eating cleanly. #winning

    • Erika Nicole Kendall

      November 14, 2011 at 11:19 AM

      Of the 65 NYC Greenmarkets, 53 accept charges. The GrowNYC.org website should have more info for you. Either way, stop in! I promise you’ll enjoy it! :)

    • Ricki

      November 14, 2011 at 11:42 AM

      Actually, the green markets aren’t cheaper than Whole Foods. The prices are comparable (higher in some cases), but you shouldn’t let that stop you! Buying local is far better for the environment and I find the produce at the green market tends to be of better quality since it’s local and can be picked and sent to the markets when it’s ripe and ready for picking, unlike the under ripe produce we frequently find in Whole Foods.

      • Erika Nicole Kendall

        November 14, 2011 at 1:21 PM

        That’s not entirely accurate – if an item is being grown in season in the area that can grow it best, the farmer’s market will almost always beat WF’s prices hands down. Apples are almost an extra $0.30 more at WF than at the FM; zucchini, corn, and other squashes? ALWAYS cheaper at the market.

        Not only that, but in agreeance with you, people also have to consider: of the amount that you’re paying to Whole Foods, only a small percentage of that is actually going to the farmer. WF has to pay rent for its building, transportation fees… if they’re not hiking the price for the product, then they’re talking the farmer into charging less for the product. And I get it – that’s how business operates – but I’m sayin’. At the farmer’s market, you’re literally putting all that money in the hands of the person who aided in growing what you’re planning to eat. HUGE difference.

  2. Fatimah

    November 14, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    My farmer’s market in Barbados is cash only, which is expected in a developing country (mainstream stores here are only beginning to facilitate interact/debit).
    All the farmer’s markets in Toronto that I’ve been to are cash only, but they could benefit from this token idea. I think it could attract a brand new clientele.

  3. Ricki

    November 14, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    This is also great for people who are trying to stick to budgets. Ever since I started using these tokens I’ve had a much easier time sticking to my grocery budget. I head to the token booth at Grand Army and request $25 and that’s it. Once my tokens are gone I’m done shopping until the following Saturday. It forces me to buy only what I need for the week and keeps me from going nuts at Bread Alone Bakery (they have some amazing scones and cookies).

    • Erika Nicole Kendall

      November 14, 2011 at 11:28 AM

      I totally buy my daughter’s sandwich bread at Bread Alone. There’s also the apple cider booth there… hot apple cider? Totally winning.

      I didn’t even think about the budget implications. LOVE this comment!

  4. Dalila

    November 14, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    My mom uses those tokens at the farmers market near her house in Brooklyn. I think it’s a cool concept and that more farmers in other areas should take advantage of it. It would be nice if the farmers markets in South Jersey/Philly took advantage of a system like this. LOL

  5. heavenleiblu

    November 14, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    Most of the farmer’s markets here in the Atlanta metro area operate much like the one that you mentioned in Miami; and function much like typical grocery stores, except the offerings and layouts differ from grocery stores–and each other.

    The others that function like pop-ups ( the one on my job’s campus is every Tuesday, for example), are cash only, as are the ones I grew up going to in the Savannah, GA area, and in Jersey.

  6. Curlstar

    November 14, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    That is really cool! I am pretty sure that they are not doing that in DC.

    • Lise

      November 19, 2011 at 8:12 AM

      Actually they do have this in DC. The Freshfarm Markets take EBT. What’s even better — they match your EBT Tokens up to ten dollars, so it’s like you get ten dollars for free. Nearly all of the farmers markets in DC and MD take food stamps or Get Fresh checks (for seniors and WIC recipients).

  7. Jane

    November 14, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    The Farmer’s Market in Grand Rapids, Mi does the same thing with tokens.

  8. Monique

    November 14, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    Wow! I love the idea of people being able to acquire fresh, LOCAL food with their SNAP benefits. This is definitely a win-win for the farmers and shoppers.
    My farmer’s market doesn’t accept debit cards and it’s such a hassle getting cash before heading over there.

  9. Debra

    June 28, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    First, let me say that I love your page & the knowledge you bring to its viewers. Here, in Canton Michigsn, our farmers market embraces the same concept too!

  10. Brandy

    April 19, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    We can use EBT here at selected Farmers Markets in Chicago. Here some of them actually have the EBT swipe machine like a regular store. You just swipe and go, no tokens. My ex-husband is on EBT due to being disabled. I help him grocery shop and he loves the selection he can get for him as well as our daughter. Sure, I’ve gotten the same mean weirdo looks I get at grocery stores when we use the card but hey…people will complain if it’s used on junk food and will complain that he can shop at stores like Whole Foods. Just because he is disabled or anyone is going through a rough moment doesn’t mean they can’t eat healthy.

  11. R. Miles

    April 27, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    In Michigan we have what is called Double buck from June through October @ the Eastern Market in Detroit (other locations are available, this is the largest and oldest farmer’s market. Up to $20.00 can be doubled if you use you EBT card. With the extra tokens, the only restriction is that it must be grown in Michigan. Wonderful!!!!!!

  12. Kami

    November 7, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Must go to the farmers market soon.

  13. erica

    November 25, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    we also have that in Baltimore. they charge $2.00 for the the transaction but it is good for the unscheduled trips to the farmers market that my daughter and i occasionally make :)

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