The Farm Share Program provides limited-income Vermonters with the opportunity to support their local CSA farmer and receive reliable access to high-quality produce on weekly basis through an innovative cost-share model.
NOFA Vermont’s Farm Share Program assists limited-income Vermonters in obtaining farm fresh foods by partially subsidizing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares from Vermont farms. Each year, the Farm Share Program assists over 750 individuals participating in CSA programs.
The program began in 1994 as a response to the increase in food insecure children and adults in Vermont, as well as the recognition of the gap that exists between social service providers seeking food for limited-income individuals, and farmers seeking a local market for their food. The program has grown from serving a dozen individual families and three farms in 1995 to more than 750 Vermonters and 39 farms in 2015.
Drawing on NOFA Vermont's long relationship working with farmers committed to community food production, we established the program as a way to link food producers with limited-income Vermonters. Each year, the Farm Share Program subsidizes the cost of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares, providing a season's worth of fresh farm products (vegetables, eggs, bread, meat) to limited-income families and children.
What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?
The CSA is a unique model of food assistance that:
- Encourages the local consumption of highly nutritious, fresh, and diverse farm products, regardless of economic status;
- Supports long-term changes in daily intake of vegetables and fruits because the fresh food is available each week for several months;
- Connects people of diverse life circumstances to the farmer, land, and food they eat through planting, harvesting, and pick-up of products at the farm;
- Supports the agricultural costs incurred by farmers through one-time, up-front, member payment for a 15-30 week share of the season's harvest;
- Provides fair market value, through direct, farmer to customer sales; and
- Encourages individuals and families to spend their food dollars locally. Many CSA programs also provide farm and nutrition education through cooking and food preparation workshops, recipes and other resources. Due to program demand, the Vermont Farm Share Program has catalyzed the development of new CSA's in underserved areas of the state.