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Bringing local farm food to seniors

Bringing local farm food to the tables of seniors in need

 

“I am happy to be part of a movement toward ‘eating local.’  I grew up on a farm (long ago and far away) and this reminded me that fresh, local produce is still available!”
~ Northampton Senior FarmShare participant

During July and August this year, 30 seniors who struggle to afford healthy, fresh food, may look forward each week to a generous supply of vegetables bursting with freshness and flavor.  Cucumbers, greens, tomatoes, squash, beets, peppers, onions, carrots, melons, etc.  Crisp, sweet, and delicious!

So what is this great program, and who makes it possible?

This is the Senior FarmShare program, a collaboration between Grow Food Northampton, the Northampton Senior Center, CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) and Crimson and Clover Farm.  Every year, for the past four years now, a growing number of low-income seniors in Northampton have enjoyed 10 weeks of Crimson & Clover Farm’s summer vegetables. GFN volunteers deliver farm shares each Tuesday to the Northampton Senior Center where more volunteers bag them, add recipe ideas, and make them available for participant pick-up.

Grow Food Northampton (GFN) is the non-profit organization that owns the new, 121-acre “Northampton Community Farm” in Florence (formerly farmland owned by the Bean and Allard families).  GFN leases its farmland to organic farmers like Crimson and Clover Farm.  GFN also manages the large Grow Food Northampton Organic Community Garden, and runs youth education and food access programs. GFN organizes volunteers to deliver Crimson & Clover’s excess produce each week to the Northampton Survival Center.  It also subsidizes garden plots and farmshares for households that rely on food stamps (SNAP).

Northampton’s Senior FarmShare program is fully subsidized by Grow Food Northampton thanks to generous community support. This year, GFN is increasing the number of Senior FarmShares it offers from 22 to 30.  This means that, for 30 qualifying seniors, GFN will contribute $90 toward the cost of a 10-week farm share while each senior pays just $10.

One of last year’s participants described: “I do not drive and I live on a fixed income.  So being able to participate in such a great program for only $10 and being able to pick up the produce at the Northampton Senior Center was wonderful. I could not have participated in a farm share if I had to drive to the farm or if the cost was not subsidized.”  Another shouted, “All the difference for my health!  

Do you qualify for a Senior FarmShare?

  • Are you age 60 or older?
  • Are you a Northampton resident?
  • Can you answer “YES” to ONE of the following:

• I receive fuel assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, SSI, AFDC, welfare, or veterans aid;
• I participate in the Food Bank’s Brown Bag Program;
• I live alone and my income is below $22,980;
• My combined income with my spouse/partner is below $31,020 (only one share per couple please).

To obtain an application for a Senior FarmShare, please contact Michele Dihlmann: mdihlmann@northamptonma.gov or 413-587-1226.  You can also download an application at: growfoodnorthampton.com/senior-farm-shares/.

Applications are due June 15, 2014.

To enable Grow Food Northampton to continue subsidizing Senior FarmShares in Northampton, please consider making a donation!  You may contribute online at GrowFoodNorthampton.com, or send a check to:

Grow Food Northampton
PO Box 849
Northampton, MA 01061

Northampton’s Senior Farmshare program is one of 16 throughout the Pioneer Valley administered by CISA.  Since the program’s inception in 2004, over 2,765 shares have been distributed to seniors in need, and local farmers have received over $315,000 for their produce.  Says one of these satisfied participants: “My doctor is always telling me to eat more fruit and veggies, this was a great way to do it!”

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