Betsy Chapman

I am the director of Oxford Community Market. My role is to build a community to support our hard-working local farmers in selling their wares and to develop systems that improve access to healthy local food in underserved pockets of our community. I see my role as less “executive” director and more community organizer. I believe strongly in principles of grassroots community organizing that empower people from all walks of life to participate in creating solutions to our community’s biggest challenges. In addition to operating the farmers’ market, a lot of my work focuses on developing ways to ensure that fresh local food is accessible and affordable to all in our community. I believe that if we are intentional and committed to our values, we can build a more just and equitable local farm food system. For example, last year, OXCM purchased over 14,000 of local produce and farm goods that were distributed to people in need through The Pantry and in three income-based neighborhoods. We also operated nutrition incentive voucher programs to assist SNAP/WIC participants, seniors and students in purchasing fresh local produce. 

I have been organizing neighborhood activities, get-togethers, parties, clubs and projects since I was a little kid. My mom’s favorite story to tell about me is when I was 5 years old and early on a Saturday morning, she heard me ushering in a group of neighborhood kids saying, “Please come in. My mother will make us all pancakes.” My mom happily made us all her famous pancakes for my impromptu pancake party…And I’ve been hosting gatherings ever since. That’s essentially what I do professionally – I help host a weekly gathering of farmers, customers, musicians, artisans, community partners, volunteers – everyone from active seniors to engaged students to families with kids to our furry friends – and together we create a beautiful, vibrant marketplace filled with good food, good friends and good vibes! 

Never quit doing the parts of your job that you love. My passion is boots-on-the-ground community work – this is how you deeply connect with the people you serve and really get a visceral understanding of their challenges and needs.

Every market day! Gathering with my people renews my hope weekly that we can – if we are thoughtful, intentional and collaborative – utilize public spaces to create loving, supportive, thriving communities.

Hometown: Oxford is my adopted hometown. I moved here in 2005 after a childhood of more moves than I can count on both hands. I wanted to have the experience of living somewhere where I could walk down the street and say “hey” to 20 people I know along the way. I am so happy to have found that community I always wanted here!
I can’t start my day until: Coffee.
Hobbies: I have been a vintage collector for over 20 years. My entire house is filled with furnishings from the 1950s. Even my stove is from the ’50s!
Binge-watch: Dateline
Favorite Meal in Town: One of OXCM’s famous vendor potlucks. Farm folks can COOK!