Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental and Energy Policy (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Social Sciences

Advisor 1

Angie Carter

Committee Member 1

Shan Zhou

Committee Member 2

Kelly Kamm


Living in a rural area can make finding food that is good and affordable difficult, especially for those who rely on assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. Federal incentive programs assist those with SNAP benefits to purchase fresh produce. I studied three farmers markets in Houghton County in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula to identify how rural farmers markets are integrating these programs to increase access to fresh produce. Specifically, I asked: 1) How might farmers markets work to be more inviting and make their food more accessible to those of lower socioeconomic status?; 2) By studying these three farmers markets in Houghton County, what can be learned about the integration of food assistance programs, such as the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB)?; 3)What can be learned across these cases to better inform the integration of food assistance programs at farmers markets? I collected data over a six-month period, July 2021 through December 2021, via participant observation at farmers markets and as well as oral surveys with market consumers to learn more about why they came to the market and what they purchased. Additionally, I conducted 13 semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, including civic leaders, market managers and farmer vendors, to learn more about farmers markets, their importance within their community, and food assistance program integration within the market. I identified three key findings: 1) market acceptance of food assistance programs fosters community connections within and beyond the market, 2) the importance of the market as a public service within the community facilitating access to fresh foods, and 3) how grassroot collaborative governance is helping the Calumet market become an important community driver to support food security and to inform evolution of other markets. Through grassroots efforts and collaborative governance, people of the local communities are coming together to make the market in their city more inclusive and accessible to all residents.

Included in

Food Studies Commons