Eating fresh foods is a crucial factor in leading a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to homegrown, unprocessed foods.
This happens to be the case on the Omaha Reservation. Bounthy Parker wants to help members of the Omaha Nation solve this problem by demonstrating how to grow vegetables and sell the foods at farmers markets.
As a garden/orchard market assistant for the Center for Rural Affairs, Bounthy not only provides people with advice on how to improve the quality and quantity of their homegrown produce, but also teaches people what kinds of foods will sell best at local markets, so they can make a profit.
“My hope is to help grow the market gardens, and to expand these markets within the community,” said Bounthy. “Educating people on the benefits to growing, selling, and preserving their own foods will help build the community within itself.”
Bounthy recently began his role with the Center, and serves the Macy and Walthill areas.
“Through my job, I can give members of the Omaha Tribe all the benefits and resources the Center has to offer,” he said. “I grew up in a small town where everyone knows each other, and to help bring that kind of support back to a rural community and see it have a impact on its people would be amazing.”
Having traveled the country working in the culinary field before settling in Walthill, Bounthy has plenty of experience in the food industry. He’s also been instructed in hospitality and has managed restaurants and other businesses over the years. In the process, he learned about agriculture and its health benefits.
His training prepared him for the many responsibilities this position requires. He provides market and business education on non-produce items suitable for sale at local or regional markets such as preserved foods, baked goods, meats, and artwork.
Community members can go to Bounthy for advice on marketing and business requirements, techniques, and tools for selling perishable and non-perishable items at farmer markets.
Bounthy also recruits market vendors and customers; builds community support; promotes the sale of locally grown foods; and manages the use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and other food assistance programs at local markets.
“I’m excited to see what my training can do for people living on the Omaha Reservation,” said Bounthy. “Because of the Center, new resources and support are now available to the community, and I’m grateful to be a part of that.”