Farmers Market Gearing Up for 2012 Season

Last year's market at Court Square Park.

Saturday, June 9, marks the opening day of the 2012 Helena Farmers Market. This year the market will be launching several exciting updates and additions. Last year, Main Street Helena received two grants on behalf of the market: a $39,215 USDA Farmers Market Promotion Grant and a $6,000 Arkansas Community Foundation Grant. With this support Main Street Helena has hired a part-time market manager who will provide more robust program support and leadership. Additionally, the market has worked with Thrive through their Design Measures program to develop new signage and marketing materials to expand the market’s reach.

Potentially the most impactful improvement to the market will be the addition of equipment necessary to accept EBT and SNAP benefits. Market leadership is developing a token system that will allow residents receiving benefits to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from market vendors. This development will significantly expand healthy eating options for downtown residents, with the closest grocery store located almost two miles from downtown.  

Community Development Updates – 2011 in Review

Here’s a rundown of some of the key projects that were completed, funded or initiated in 2011:

1. Fort Curtis
Phase One construction was completed on this ¾ replica Union Fort (see story below).

2. Chamber of Commerce BR&E
The Phillips County Chamber of Commerce received $95,000 to fund its Business Retention and Expansion program.

3. Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
Innovative program was launched by the Delta AHEC providing curriculum and training to enable all four public school districts to offer teen pregnancy prevention education to 7th, 8th and 9th graders.

4. King Biscuit Blues Festival
Festival leadership developed plans to expand the year-round impact of the festival, with three Live on the Levee concerts starting in the spring and a robust Blues in Schools program.

5. Mini-Grant program
A Delta Bridge Project Mini-Grant program was funded to encourage volunteerism and include more community partners.  A formal announcement about the launch of this exciting effort will be coming out this summer.

6. Helena Entrepreneur Center
Program completed successful first year (see story below).

7. Helena Wayfinding and Gateway Signage Plan
A nationally-recognized signage company developed plans for coordinated wayfinding and gateway signage to improve the visitor experience.

8. Trails and Greenways Plan
Work began on a $36,700 grant to develop a Trails and Greenways Plan for the City of Helena.

9. Downtown Helena Farmer’s Market
Market received $39,215 USDA FMPP Grant for expansion.

10. HUD Rural Innovation Grant
This $2 million grant will fund business and downtown development incentives for the county.

11. Chamber Leadership Grant
Grant under review to support the new Chamber leadership academy and Phillips County Volunteer Corps efforts.

12. Freedom Park – Civil War Helena
A $385,000 grant is under review to fund the creation of the first National Park Service Underground Railroad “Network to Freedom? site in the state of Arkansas.

13. Biscoe Corridor Improvements
The state began construction on the new $3 million Welcome Center at the foot of the Helena Bridge.  Additionally, a private developer finalized a $5.6 million plan to renovate the Old Helena High School into 40 two-bedroom apartments for seniors.