There's a lot that happens here in addition to growing 250,000 lbs of produce for our CSA shareholders. Education initiatives at the farm include after-school and summer programs, in addition to field trips and home school groups. We also open the farm to tours, volunteers, and community events. Our focus on farmer education takes us to conferences all over the country, as well as on-farm workshops, where we share our experience (with a focus on farm-business management). We are also always looking for ways to increase access to our CSA shares, and are pleased to be entering into the second season of our "donor supported share" program.
Education at the Farm
Our education initiatives are broad welcoming a diverse array of groups to the farm. Most Amherst kindergarten classes come for our classic full circle carrots-compost-pigs field trip, Holyoke Community College food and sustainability courses make several trips a year and we have a long-standing partnership with the Hartsbrook School 10th and 12th grade classes. You might find a UMASS sustainable agriculture class or a small group from Mt Holyoke doing a project on land tenure. In addition to these groups, our former apprentice Leila Tunnell leads on-farm after-school and summer programs in conjunction with the Amherst Regional Middle School. From girl scouts to gardening clubs to apprenticeships, teaching and learning is a constant here at the farm!
We have always been interested in ways of making our shares more affordable to a wide range of people. In addition to accepting SNAP for share payments, we now offer a "Donor Supported Share" to help people who are in need access fresh, local food. Started with an unsolicited donation from a long-time shareholder, we now partner with Family Outreach of Amherst who identifies families interested in becoming shareholders, and provides transportation and support to get their shares. We continue to raise funds for this program to expand it's scope.
The farm is a community space. We host our own events and also in partnership with a variety of other individuals and groups. Community events run the gamut from work parties to accomplish a large task collectively, to local artists setting up wares to sell behind the barn to bonfires, concerts and on-farm dinners. Check out our events calendar for this years events!
Our farm production runs fully on the money we charge for CSA shares. That is, we figure out what it costs to produce all of the food we grow and then we divide it by the number of families we think we can feed. That’s the share price. It covers costs of production – seeds, labor, fuel, capital loans, etc. We think it’s important that this concept is central to our financial picture as a production farm as we want our farm management to be replicable in as many situations as possible All of the “other” activities that we participate in, which we generally call “outreach” are paid for by soliciting donations from our community (far and wide). We keep the streams separate so we can know our true costs of production, have people pay for that production, and then finance our outreach work with other sources of support.
Through our Annual Fund, other fundraising activities (Valley Gives), and unsolicited gifts we raise enough money to fund all of the outreach activity at the farm. For the past 8 years we have hosted the (mostly) annual "Full-Belly Benefit Dance Party" in support of organizations focused on local food security, including the Amherst Survival Center, the Northampton Survival Center, the Kestrel Land Trust and CISA's Local Food For All Campaign. If you'd like to discuss a donation, please contact us.