From staff reports

The Athens Farmers Market, with partners Community Food Initiatives and Rural Action are raising money for a new fund to honor Ann Fugate, co-owner Rich Organic Farms, mover and shaker of the Athens Farmers Market, long-time Rural Action board member, and fierce farmer advocate who passed away in May.

The Ann Fugate memorial Fund will support beginner farmers in Southeast Ohio by providing two scholarships each spring for new farmers at the Athens Farmers Market.

“Ann gave so much to our market”, said Ronda Clark, executive committee member. “She worked behind the scenes to write the grants, professionalize us and put countless hours into expanding the market. She was an ardent supporter of local farmers and the Athens Farmers Market and had a deep passion for our local food economy. She was a pillar of our market and will be missed.”

The Memorial Fund will support two beginner farmers each Spring by awarding them a free Athens Farmers Market stall fee worth $200.

The Athens Farmers Market’s intention is to reduce the barrier for new farmers to bring products to market while also honoring Ann’s Legacy and her commitment to the Market and its many customers. As farmers retire or pass away, new farmers are needed to fill the growing demand for local foods in our region. The Fund will also help ensure that market products reflect the needs of all generations of customers and keep the 49-year-old market on the cutting edge.

Awardees will also receive business development advice through Rural Action’s Beginner Farmer programming.

“Mom spoke often of the market and farming and how local farming is absolutely essential for sustainability,” said Laura Blake, daughter of Ann. “Local farmers markets are important for keeping our communities healthy and farmers financially sound.”

Local farmers interested in applying for the grant need to contact Ronda Clark, fund coordinator, at or Tanya Hire, market manager, at An application will be emailed and an interview will be organized by Jan. 31, 2021. Farmers that raise fruits, berries, veggies, herbs, plant starts, meat, or honey are invited to apply. Applicants cannot be a former or current AFM vendor and must live within 150-mile radius of Athens. Only two applicants will be awarded each season and the grant will be valid for one season starting April 1 through March 31.

Donations to the fund should be written to Community Food Initiatives (CFI), the fiscal agent for the Ann Fugate Memorial Fund for Beginner Farmers, and sent to 94 Columbus Rd, Athens, OH 45701. Please note “Ann Fugate Memorial Fund” on your check. CFI is a non-profit and all donations are tax-deductible.

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