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NOFA Vermont’s Farm Share Program Makes Giving Back Easy!

The Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) of Vermont’s Farm Share Program helps make the bounty of Vermont’s farms available to everyone, regardless of income. In this program, NOFA Vermont partners limited-income applicants with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms in their communities to receive a share of fresh produce each week for a season. NOFA Vermont subsidizes 25% of the cost of the CSA shares, 25% is paid through funds raised by farms in their local communities, and the participants pay the remaining 50%.

With food shelves under increasing strain and cuts to government food support programs looming, Farm Share helps bring healthy food to those who need it most. “In addition,” says program coordinator, Erin Buckwalter, “unlike many food security programs, Farm Share strengthens the economy by partnering with 35 farms throughout the state.” In fact, in 2013, farmers received $62,000 in additional income and provided farm-fresh food to over 160 households statewide as a result of the Farm Share Program.

Photo courtesy of NOFA Vermont

The Farm Share program is funded primarily through an annual fundraising event called Share the Harvest. On the first Thursday of each October, restaurants and food retailers across Vermont pledge a portion of their day’s sales toward NOFA Vermont’s Farm Share general fund. The Skinny Pancake has been a Share the Harvest participant and 1% partner since 2008. “The Share the Harvest program is a shining example of collaboration between for profits & nonprofits; it highlights the ability of nonprofits to use capitalism to empower their goals right alongside the ability of for-profits to contribute to the common good,” owner Benjy Adler said. “The Skinny Pancake is proud to be a part of this innovative, annual effort that is so central to our mission.”

A second funding mechanism is the Farm Share gift tag, which was started in the winter of 2012.  The gift tags show NOFA Vermont’s logo printed on seed-paper and buyers are reminded that they make great gifts for the person who “has everything”.  Each $25 donation leverages an additional $75 in direct sales to Vermont farmers.  The 2013 gift tag campaign is underway and will continue throughout the year, although a special media push is organized to promote them as holiday gifts.

The Farm Share program has been hugely successful, and now has a waiting list. We need to raise an additional $5,500 to fund our current application volume and with additional funds, we could do outreach to enroll even more limited-income families. You can support the program by partnering with us through 1% for the Planet, through a direct donation, or by participating in Share the Harvest in October.

We are currently exploring corporate sponsorship options that would allow us to greatly expand the capacity and scope of the program. With a little help, we believe Farm Share could bring fresh, local food to an additional 500 households in the next 3 years.

Take a look around their site and see how you can help make local and organic food accessible to everyone in our community!

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