POWER 9® PEOPLE
An ongoing series about people improving their well-being
Fort Worth is the largest certified Blue Zones Community® in the country. Each month we talk to a different member of our community and find out how they experience well-being in their neighborhood. This month’s featured guest is Becca Knutson, market manager and farmer at the Cowtown Farmers Market, the oldest farmers market in Fort Worth. With a background in elementary education, organic crop production, and soil science, Knutson relishes her job building connections with Fort Worth’s farming and growing communities.
Q: You’ve definitely found your Blue Zones sense of Purpose – which helps create longevity and a healthier life – in your career as an advocate for fresh produce and food policy.
A: Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to teach gardening and cooking classes, support community and school gardens, work on food access projects that were a collaboration between many community organizations, and now grow and sell delicious locally grown produce.
Q: Those cooking classes are important because many of us weren’t taught how to cook with different types of vegetables. In the community gardens, you get to work with kids and families who don’t always have access to fresh produce on a weekly basis.
A: It’s very rewarding to help teach people about growing their own food. People who grow their own food develop a greater connection and appreciation for it. It’s a powerful skill to learn that can be used wherever a person may live.
Q: Between the work that you do as the Market Manager and your work as chair of the Tarrant County Food Policy Board, you’ve helped knit together a Right Tribe, a group of people who care a lot about access to fresh produce. Tell us some of the advantages the community gains by buying produce found in farmers markets.
A: I think locally grown produce just tastes better. It travels a shorter distance to get to your table, and that keeps more of the food’s nutritional value. When you’ve been buying and eating food out of season, it tastes different. Farmers markets benefit the surrounding economies, and you actually get to talk to the people who grow the food.
Q: How did you get involved with gardening and farming?
A: My love of plants and food stemmed from my mom’s love of gardening and my dad’s ability to create delicious meals. Being able to grow and prepare food for people I care about and help increase opportunities for others to have those same experiences is important to me.
Q: August 7-14 is National Farmers Market Week. How can the community participate?
A: Visit your favorite farmers market and support the growers, ranchers, and artisan producers who are working had to bring fresh, quality food to our community.
Q: Tell us about the partnership that Cowtown Farmers Market has with Blue Zones Project.
A: Blue Zones Project launched and supports Double Up Food Bucks at our market. Double Up is a national program that lets people who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) double their dollars for fresh produce at participating farmers markets and grocery stores. It’s a win-win for both growers and consumers.
Q: Since you’re involved with produce from the ground up (no pun intended), how do you coach people to eat with a Plant Slant, which has been proven to positively impact health conditions like blood sugar imbalances and high cholesterol levels?
A: I tend to eat mostly vegetarian and plant forward. I feel nourished and more energized when I do. As part of my work with Cowtown Farmers Market, I am able to share recipes that use in-season produce through our social media pages and email newsletter.
Q: You’re also passionate about helping people as they consider growing some of the food they eat. Do you need a lot of land to grow some of your own food?
A: Not at all. Home gardens can provide a great supplement to the food you buy. Texas has a good year-round growing season –– some of the hardier crops include lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, peppers and okra. A couple of 4×8 raised beds can definitely supplement a single family’s food budget.
Visit Cowtown Farmers Market’s new location at 8901 Clifford Street, White Settlement 76108 (Veteran’s Park) beginning August 6. Get on their newsletter mailing list for updates.