The NOFA-VT Farm Share Program is a great way for your farm to expand access to limited-income Vermonters in your community!
Your farm will raise funds to cover 25% of the cost for the "supported shares" through your current CSA shareholders and/or local businesses, organizations and individuals in your community. NOFA Vermont matches your 25% contribution, and the CSA shareholder pays the remaining 50% of the share price directly the the CSA farm.
How to Participate
To participate in the NOFA-VT Farm Share Program, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be a member of NOFA-VT and/or certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF).
- Offer a full-season CSA and/or a pre-paid farmstand model.
- Communicate the program to your existing community and current shareholders who may benefit from the program, and share with them the program application.
- Solicit donations from your current shareholders and area businesses to support 25% of the share cost of anticipated applicants. Those individuals/community groups can make tax-deductible donations to the program to help support shares from your farm, if NOFA-VT serves as your fiscal sponsor.
- NOFA-VT will review individual applications and beginning notify farms in late-March (for summer) or late August (for fall) about households that have requested to join their CSA, and their anticipated share size.
- The farm and NOFA-VT will determine how many applicants the farm can support and at what share size(s).
- NOFA-VT and the CSA farm share 50% of the share cost (25% each).
- NOFA-VT will contact accepted applicants and let them know that they should contact the farm to arrange payment of their cost responsibility and confirm the specifics about the share distribution.
- NOFA-VT will continue to review applications on a rolling basis (until May 31st for summer and October 30th for fall) and will notify CSA farms as additional applicants are received, or until the CSA farm has indicated that they can no longer accept any more Farm Share applicants*.
- In early June (for summer) or November (for fall), or after confirming that all Farm Share applicants have signed up for their CSA, NOFA-VT will reimburse farms for NOFA-VT's 25% cost contribution, along with funds from the farm's designated donations account (if applicable).
*If a farm is unable to accept applicants, NOFA-VT will work with the applicant to identify another CSA farm in their area that still has funding available.
Soliciting your members and community to support subsidized shares for their low-income neighbors helps to build a stronger community network within your CSA and allows more low-income Vermonters to access farm fresh food. Some farms have even been able to become independent from NOFA-VT’s financial support because their CSA members have contributed enough money to subsidize all of the farm’s supported shares. This independence also allows NOFA-VT to stretch our funding to new farms and eligible members around the state.
If you have completed the necessary paperwork to have NOFA-VT act as a fiscal sponsor for Farm Share funds on your farm’s behalf, individuals/community groups can make tax-deductible donations by writing the check directly to NOFA-VT. These donations should have your farm’s name written in the check memo. If the check or cash is donated to your farm (not NOFA-VT) we cannot offer a tax deduction.
You can introduce your CSA members to the Farm Share Program by including information in your CSA publicity materials. Here is some recommended wording:
“Our farm participates in the Vermont Farm Share Program. This program subsidizes CSA shares for our neighbors who otherwise could not afford to join our CSA. Through the program, NOFA-VT will match each dollar that our CSA raises to offer reduced rates to income eligible individuals and families. Your contributions are tax-deductable if you make checks payable to NOFA-VT. Please see the attached donation form on our CSA application.”
Some farms also add:
"If you are in need of financial assistance, please ask us about the Vermont Farm Share Program. You may be eligible for a partially subsidized share.”
Many farms include an option to donate to the program on their CSA application. Here is some recommended language (we have found it works best to include this at the bottom of the sign-up form):
“I would like to contribute to the Vermont Farm Share Program to help low-income households in our community join the farm. Every cent donated goes directly towards the cost of a share. Any size donation helps. For donations to be tax deductible, make checks payable to the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) and write our farm name in the check memo. NOFA-VT will match the donation, and grant it back to our farm.”
Some farms go beyond this and host events or sales to support shares. Below are a few ideas that have been successfull for forms: