The Senior Farm Share Program helps limited-income seniors living in participating housing sites to access fresh locally-grown fruits and vegetables from their local farmer. Each week a Senior Farm Share member receives a portion of the harvest from the farm. In addition to receiving vegetables, seniors are given the opportunity to connect with other seniors within their residence through food distribution and preparation, learn from ways to cook and preserve their produce, meet other community members who are associated with the farm, and develop a relationship with the farmer who grows the food they eat each week. In 2019, there were over 950 senior farm share members throughout Vermont!
Who is eligible?
To participate in the program, seniors must be 60 or older. It may be possible for younger adults with a disability who live in a participating housing site to qualify if: (1) they meet the income limit criteria; (2) more than half of the site residents are age 60 or older; and (3) the site offers congregate nutrition services. If you have questions about eligibility, please contact Jennie, j[email protected], (802) 434-4122. Households need a monthly income at or below 185% of the federal poverty income guidelines to be eligible. In 2019, one person needs to have gross monthly income of $1,872 or less, and a 2-person household needs to have a gross monthly income of $2,538 or less.
Senior housing sites are selected to participate based on several factors – number of interested residents who are income-eligible, proximity to the farm, and the availability and willingness of a Resident Service Coordinator to take responsibility for program coordination, including weekly share pick up and distribution.
What are the benefits?
The Senior Farm Share Program connects seniors to the farm through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share –community members buy a “share” of the farm's seasonal harvest. Senior shares are fully paid for by the program. Each senior is eligible for a $50 share, which is typically spread out over a 5-10 week share period.
The federal grant that funds Senior Farm Share also pays for the farmers’ market coupons distributed to seniors through the Vermont Farm To Family Program. Federal rules do not allow a household to get Farm To Family coupons and also participate in Senior Farm Share in the same year.
About how many vegetables will a shareholder receive each week?
Each senior will receive enough vegetables to supplement their diet. They will receive about $5-10 of vegetables for every week of the program, depending on what is in season and what varieties the farmers grow. While participants will not necessarily get to choose the vegetables that are distributed, they can expect a wide variety of vegetables over the course of the summer.
What kinds of vegetables are distributed?
Each farm grows most of the standard vegetables and many unusual vegetables like Swiss chard, different kinds of greens, fennel and parsnips. Participants should be open to trying new vegetables but talk with the farmer if they are unable to eat certain kinds of vegetables due to dietary restrictions. If possible, farmers may tailor a senior share to meet special dietary needs of participants.
When does the program begin and end?
Farmers generally begin food distribution in mid-July. By that time, participants can expect a wide variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, squashes, cucumbers, and peppers. The fall harvest brings winter squash, root vegetables, carrots, and greens. Depending on when it starts and how many weeks it will last, share distribution may end by late August or mid-September. Some sites decide to stagger their share weeks to take advantage of different seasonal offerings.
How do shareholders get his/her vegetables each week?
Each week, on a designated day, the Resident Service Coordinator will either pick up the vegetables at the farm or have them delivered to a common kitchen or community space at the senior housing site. The coordinator will be responsible for the distribution of vegetables to all members, but may also request assistance from interested participants. It is important to find a small group of shareholders willing to take on some leadership for the distribution of vegetables to all.
Who is administering the program?
The Senior Farm Share Program is administered by the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL). They do this in collaboration with the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT), the University of Vermont (UVM) Extension, and the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF).
For questions about senior eligibility, residence eligibility, or nutrition education, the farm, the vegetables, nutrition education, or distribution, please contact:
Jennie Porter, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont | (802) 434-4122 ext. 36 | [email protected]
Project Funding & Non-Discriminatory Statement
This project is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.
In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.
To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA
(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or
(3) email: [email protected].
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.