AdkAction is pleased to announce that more than 100 families in the North Country will be able to enroll in local community supported agriculture (CSA) vegetable subscriptions at no cost this year, thanks to crowdfunded support and a generous $25,000 matching grant from an anonymous donor.
“We set a goal to raise enough by the first day of spring for 100 families to participate,” said AdkAction Food Security Projects Manager Kim La Reau. “In just one week we exceeded our initial goal, and are now well on our way to serving 125 families through the program this year. The outpouring of support has been tremendous.”
The Fair Share CSA program was tested last summer, when AdkAction sponsored 23 families to participate in farm shares at White Rainbow Farm in Peru and Tangleroot Farm in Essex. The program provided fresh local produce to these households (75 individuals) for 20 weeks in the first season.
Season-long CSA farm shares typically require up-front payment at the start of the growing season, when farmers are most in need of available funds for planting. By purchasing a farm share at the start of the season, participants accept any risks that might come up that year–whether it’s a drought, tomato blight, or a pesky insect destroying all of a certain crop. In exchange, CSA members receive a generous weekly portion of all the food grown on the farm, and get to know their local growers.
“For over a decade, we had looked at different CSA shares in the community every growing season and wished we could buy in to one but the large upfront cost, and inability to use SNAP benefits to pay prevented us from doing so. We would rather eat local and have our food dollars support local, for many reasons,” said Heather, a 2021 Fair Share participant with a family of four in Peru. “This program is so important… for the families, the farms, and the community as a whole. Providing equity in access is really huge.”
Many families in the North Country are still experiencing food insecurity and economic hardship due to the pandemic, making it hard to pay up-front costs to participate in CSA programs that are vital to local farms. AdkAction’s Fair Share program builds equity in access, so low-income community members can take advantage of the health, environmental, and social benefits of participating in a CSA. Farms benefit not only from an influx of income when it is most needed, but by deepening relationships with the whole community.
“We love seeing our food go to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access local organic produce,” shared Tangleroot Farm. “Being able to deliver our veggies to all members of our community has been incredibly gratifying.” White Rainbow Farm said, “we were able to create some beautiful relationships with the families that came to the farm for pick up.” In 2022, Juniper Hill Farm is also planning to partner in the program, and noted: “We are excited to participate in any and all programs that get fresh food to the people that need it. After 15 years of providing vegetables to the residents of the park this is an innovative and exemplary way to do so.”
Fair Share participants must first qualify for AdkAction’s Fair Food Pricing, a program that provides discounts on locally produced food. Eligibility is based on United Way’s ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) guidelines for income and household size. For example, a two-adult household with two children in childcare, earning an annual income of $78,000 – or a single senior earning $30,400 – can be eligible to join the program. Income eligibility for Fair Food Pricing can be checked at AdkAction.org/FFP.
To learn more, apply for the 2022 Fair Share season, or contribute to the fundraiser, visit Adkaction.org/FairShare.