Start a Free Produce Program for Farm-to-Community Pandemic Relief


| 9/28/2020 11:09:00 AM


 

We own a small fourth-generation farm in a town of about 4,000 in Berkshire County, Mass. We keep honeybees, chickens, grow fruit, veggies and herbs - but most of our income comes from hands-on workshops and classes at the farm. When the pandemic hit in March we had to cancel all in-person programming and, like many across the country and around the world, had to scramble to figure out what to do next while also taking steps to stay safe and healthy ourselves.

After speaking with members of the local Council on Aging, we learned about the high need for fresh produce for our town’s senior population. Because of our town’s small size, we were not able to take advantage of state or federally funded pandemic food security programs. We did not have anywhere in town large enough to store fresh produce that could be dispersed through these programs.

Of our 4,000 residents, around 35% are over 55 years old. Access to fresh foods directly impacts our immune systems and overall health. With the pandemic and higher risk of illness for our older residents simple things like going to the grocery store became dangerous for these community members. This seemed like a problem we could help to solve.

We had the space to grow fresh foods and the knowledge- we just needed a plan.



Finding Funding

Now that we had the start of a plan, we needed to figure out the financials. We save a lot of seeds each year and have established perennial foods, like raspberries, blueberries, asparagus and rhubarb so we had a good start on expanding our growing capacity. Our plan was to fundraise to cover the cost of foods grown on the farm so we could provide free, fresh produce directly to local seniors each week.





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