(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — A local fresh food market has been awarded over $660,000 in grant money to make sure more local growers get a chance to have a year-round storefront as part of an effort to enhance economic diversity in the Appalachian region.

Edinboro Market, located at 109 Erie St. in downtown Edinboro, announced Friday they were awarded $663,000 in Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funding to remodel and create a significantly larger retail space as well as add a new café to highlight local ingredients.

That cafe will also serve as a classroom space focusing on growing and cooking skills on top of building business skills for small farms and food businesses. The commercial kitchen serving the cafe will be a shared-use area that can be rented by the hour.

The executive director of the market said the additions will act as a community resource to boost sales and skills for local growers.

“ARC funding will support a fourfold expansion of Edinboro Market, increasing our ability to serve local farmers and food makers while expanding the varieties of locally made and grown products available to our customers. This project will also leverage relationships across the food system to identify, consolidate, and share resources and opportunities critical to youth and adults interested in food and farming careers,” said Marti Martz, executive director of the Edinboro Market.

Martz added that they are close to closing a deal on a new 1800 square foot location within the borough.

“In almost six years, we have sold about 1.3 million dollars in product produced by small farms and food businesses located in 150 miles of Edinboro. This expansion is going exponentially increase that impact on the local community and the folks who are intentionally growing and making food to feed out community,” said Martz.   

This project is one of 64 different projects announced by the ARC as part of a $54 million investment in Appalachian communities impacted by the coal industry. ARC funding for the grant is also being matched by an Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA) grant as well as an Erie Community Foundation Shaping Tomorrow grant, and private investments.

“From workforce training and agriculture to downtown development and broadband expansion, the projects receiving grants in this round of POWER funding show that the future of Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities is economically diverse and innovative,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin.

Edinboro Market is a 501(c)(3) organization that opened its doors back in 2017 and acts as a fresh food business incubator that features products made within a 150-mile radius of the store and provides retail outlets to over 75 small farms and food producers.

They also boast a 75/25 producer payout model that has helped circulate roughly $850,000 to local farmers, food makers and artisans that set up shop there.

To learn more about Edinboro Market, the products they offer and classes held, check out their website here.