Keep CSA Shares Accessible to All
Making our shares as affordable as possible is critical to the farm’s mission of furthering environmentally, economically and spiritually healthy agricultural techniques and of developing community supported agriculture models. The accessibility and affordability of good food is integral to the health of our overall community. Our community includes everyone who wants to be a part of it.
Help us increase access
Donor Supported Shares
community fund to increase access to our csa shares
Want to do more? You can also donate to our Donor-Supported Share Fund (below). If there is a gap in HIP funding, we as a community can help our shareholders who qualify for SNAP continue their shares with us until state funding re-starts.
Here's a letter from Farmer Dan about the idea behind this fund:
In the winter of 2014 one of our shareholders had an idea: "What if I took some part of the inheritance I just received after my father’s passing, and made a gift to the farm with the express idea of increasing access to Brookfield for people who otherwise would not be able to afford this experience?" She took this idea and made a pitch to me, making sure that not only would it be something we consider worthwhile, but also “not add to our workload.” I liked the idea, as I have always thought that there was a sizable population of our wider community who don’t feel that they can afford a share of the harvest. And certainly the RISK of the share might be very difficult for someone who is already food insecure. So I said “Yes” and was left with some questions “How would we identify families who could participate?” “How would deal with the sometimes significant question of transportation to our farm in (the deep) South of Amherst?” “How many shares should we offer in this way?”
The first thing we did was try to build upon this gift by linking our efforts with “Valley Gives” to this gift. By December, 2014 we had raised an additional $2500 and our “fund” was at $7500. The next thing (usually the smartest place to start) was to ask Karen what she would do? “Contact Family Outreach of Amherst (FAO).” she said right away. This local group (FAO) has been working to identify and aid families in need in Amherst with a variety of services. The director, Laura Reichsman met with me in March 2015 and was excited to try to implement this plan. She liked that we already took “SNAP” benefits as payments and thought that offering the share for 50% off, plus 50% paid with SNAP was the way to go. We decided we would offer 10 shares in this way this first year. That would take up $2500 and leave our fund with plenty to go forward. Francine Rodriguez, from Family Outreach, contacted me in late May to say that she had identified 9 families that were interested in participating. Could they please come for a visit to see the farm, meet me, and sign up. Sure thing.
The next smartest thing I did was ask Zoe to join me for this visit. I met the families, answered their questions, and then asked Zoe to give them a walking tour, pick some strawberries, and visit the pigs. Zoe’s warmth and ability to share the farm completely broke any barriers remaining between the farm and these families' interest or ability to participate. By the end of their visit, Francine had committed to drive the FAO van each week to the farm to bring families without cars to pick, to visit the animals, to picnic on the porch. They were hooked to what now looked like a very typical Brookfield Farm experience.
So with all of this I am left with gratitude for the way in which this entire drama unfolded. To our donor – thank you for your incredible generosity and bold thinking. To Karen, thank you for your clear-headed problem solving. And to Zoe, thank you for your way of interacting with a wide-range of people, taking them where they are and sharing our farm dreams with them. We look forward to this program expanding in the coming years.
We also take part in Valley Gives. We give half of the money raised during this 24-hour, online giving event to fund our Donor Supported Shares. We hope you lend your support!
**PLEASE NOTE** The "Donate Now" button below brings you to our payment page. You can use it to make a donation! Enter your info and then scroll down and click "Donation" when asked what this payment is for.
SNAP and HIP
Federal food and nutrition assistance programs
The most effective way of making our CSA shares accessible to all families, the state’s Healthy Incentives Program, is currently facing a funding gap. Please help now or read on to learn more about HIP at the farm and what we can do!
2018 will be our 20th year of accepting SNAP benefits as a payment method for shares. We are proud to have been a pioneering farm in the effort to make our shares accessible to all. Imagine our excitement last year when the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) was announced! HIP matches money used from SNAP benefits towards the purchase of locally grown fruits and vegetables. And it works! In 2017, we had $184% more members pay with SNAP than in 2016. This program helps all families be able to access the farm’s nourishing food and to have the experience of being a shareholder. More families are able to raise their kids picking our strawberries and eating our sweet carrots.
Today, the HIP program is threatened by a funding gap. Funding ends mid-April, and isn’t set to begin again til late July. While families can still use their SNAP benefits to buy shares, their money won’t go nearly as far without the HIP program, and the timing is such that we fear that many families won’t be able to choose a CSA share if funding isn’t provided (We start in June – right in the middle of the potential funding gap! Our last big marketing push coincides with the gap directly).
So we’re organizing in support of this program. We’ve seen the results first hand and we know that it is important. Here’s what you can do as part of the Brookfield community:
Contact your Representatives to ask them to support any supplemental budget that provides funding to keep HIP operating through the current fiscal year. Now is the time to speak up for the importance of accessibility and openness. The MA Food System Collaborative has a great site with resources to help make it quick and easy to do this: https://mafoodsystem.org/projects/hip-indivs/