In 1994, VGA helped lead a successful initiative to bring a public market to the historic Old Market District in collaboration with Omaha Mayor P.J. Morgan and Old Market “founder” Sam Mercer and the Mercer family. For the past three decades, the popular Omaha Farmers Market has become an Omaha tradition and attracts thousands of weekly shoppers with a unique selection of locally produced products every Saturday morning from May to mid-October. In 2012, the Aksarben Village Market was introduced on Sunday mornings and has since grown to more than 120 vendors from its original 45.
Each week, the Market offers farm-fresh vegetables, fruits, jams and jellies, coffees, honey, organic foods, and more. The Market also offers a unique mix of crafts, prepared foods, bedding plants, fresh-cut flowers, and baked goods. In addition to supplying the city with a source of fresh produce, the Omaha Farmers Market literally helps small business owners “grow” their business.
In 2011, Omaha Farmers Market also became the first market in Omaha and one of the first two markets in Nebraska to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits via EBT cards, the modern replacement for paper food stamps. In addition, the Markets match SNAP users’ dollars with Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB). This program will match dollar for dollar up to $20 with DUFB to be used on fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
VGA manages all facets of the Omaha Farmers Market and is also responsible for executing its 24-week marketing campaign. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the VGA team worked closely with city and state officials to ensure the Omaha Farmers Market could continue to provide the community with access to fresh produce each weekend. The start date of the season was postponed, both markets were relocated to new locations to better allow for social distancing, and additional regulations were added to ensure the safety of shoppers, vendors, and staff members.