Our subsidized CSA/Farm Share program brings low-cost CSAs to low-income neighborhoods in New Bedford. It gives participants weekly delivery of vegetables with flexible payment options and cooking education.
Funded by a grant from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, the Subsidized CSA program was started in 2016. A partnership between Coastal Foodshed (previously operated by Mass in Motion New Bedford), New Bedford Housing, the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), Ashley’s Produce at Round the Bend Farm, and Apponagansett Farm, this project aims to bring fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables directly to under-served individuals and families living in public housing.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, a model used by farmers to encourage community members to invest in their crops at the beginning of the season, allowing the farmer to secure a customer base before planting. For this project, participants pay a the beginning of each month and then receive 20 weeks of fresh, locally grown produce, that can feed up to a family of four. (Some CSA programs include meat, eggs, honey, and more and can be extended into the winter.)
Because reliable and affordable transportation is often a barrier for so many under-served individuals and families living in New Bedford, this project’s main goal is to remove the transportation barrier, bringing the farmer directly to the residents’ doorstep. This program also allows participants to use their SNAP benefits to pay for their share at the beginning of each month. DTA has created a system – used by many other similar projects – where they automatically deduct the payment at the beginning of each month, which allows low-income individuals to use their SNAP benefits to pay and provides participants with guaranteed fresh produce throughout the entire month – even if they run out of SNAP dollars before the end of the month.
Through this program we are also providing a number of cooking demonstrations and educational workshops, including how to shop on a budget, nutritional information, and more. Participants will also have an opportunity to visit Round the Bend Farm in the fall to see exactly where their food comes from!
Our goal is to continue expanding this program over the next two years to partner with four additional farmers at four additional housing sites.
For a list of CSA programs available throughout Greater New Bedford and the Southcoast, visit SEMAP.
**Funding for this project is graciously funded by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation**