We hope you'll join us on Thursday for Share the Harvest! Just dine or shop at a participating business on October 2, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit NOFA Vermont's Farm Share program, which helps limited-income families afford CSA shares from local farms, including ours! Over 70 businesses are participating statewide, including several Middlebury restaurants and the Middlebury and Rutland co-ops. Treat yourself, or just get your groceries, and help make local, organic food available to all. (You can also make a direct donation, if you feel so inclined.)
We're excited to be hosting a NOFA-VT pizza social on the farm in about a month. Mark your calendars for September 4, from 5:30–7:30. We'll be doing a field tour, telling a little about our history, and enjoying some delicious, wood-fired pizza with toppings from the farm. This is a great opportunity for CSA delivery folks and market customers to come see where their veggies come from - everyone is welcome!
You can RSVP through NOFA-VT here (plus check out their other workshops and summer socials). They're requesting a $5 donation to cover the costs of the oven, and we'll also have a donation box available to help support our Farm Share fund.
We hope to see you there!
Before it gets buried in the rest of what I want to say, here's the core: We have community members who would like to take part in our CSA but can't afford to -– but you can change that! If you are able, please donate to the NOFA Vermont Farm Share program and help us make our food available to everyone. Enter any amount, choose Farm Share Program, and designate Gildrien Farm. It's a tax-deductable donation and it will make a huge difference in the life of a local family this summer. (Read on or click here to learn more about Farm Share.)
If five people donate $25 each, a family that otherwise couldn't afford our CSA will be able to join. Can you help?
Now, the rest:
One of the major complaints leveled against the local & organic foods movement is that those foods are expensive. The truth of that charge varies depending on exactly what products one compares: organic processed food (cookies, cereal, etc) is often more expensive than conventional counterparts, but organic produce in season at the farmers' market is often cheaper than conventional in the grocery store. (It's true.)
Buying through a CSA, like ours, is generally an even better deal, since most CSAs, like ours, give a 10-15% discount on the product as a "thank you" for the early investment.
That early investment itself can be a challenge for many families, however. Even if you know you'll be saving money in the long run (and eating well, and, perhaps, getting to know a local farmer personally), coming up with a season's worth of grocery money in one lump might be out of reach. We do offer a payment plan, to help mitigate that burden.
But we also want good food - fresh, healthy, local, organic food - the food we raise - to be accessible to everyone in our community. A payment plan doesn't help if you simply can't afford the cost at all. As a family who have ourselves been on food stamps, we get it. Calorie for calorie, junk food is usually cheaper. The fact that cheap food is artificially cheap (and, for that matter, usually artificially food) doesn't change the fact that it is more affordable, especially when time is as tight as money. (If you counting nutrients instead of calories, or if you are able to prepare most of your meals from scratch, the equation changes – but it also gets a lot more complicated.)
All of that is why we believe and participate in NOFA Vermont's Farm Share Program. Farm Share works by gathering community donations - raised by the farm (like this right here) and by NOFA during the annual Share the Harvest fundraiser. Limited-income Vermonters apply and are matched with a local farm. They pay half the cost of the CSA, the farm-raised donations pay one quarter, and the NOFA-raised donations pay the other. It's really a phenomenal solution - people in need get access to good food, local farms get new customers. At times, we've had up to a third of our membership participating through Farm Share, but we need the community's support to make it work. Can you donate $25 and make a season of local, organic food possible for a local family?
Hopefully, you've heard of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) - it's a set of sweeping regulations that will affect how food is grown and processed in the United States. Many of the current proposed rules would be disproportionately expensive and onerous for small and organic farms, without necessarily being linked to actual food safety.
The public comment period on the regulation closes this Friday, 11/22. Consumers as well as farmers can comment - you can tell them that this law will damage the food system we're trying to create, and that the farmers you buy from are part of the solution, not the problem. In addition, the proposed regulations are in conflict with national organic certification rules as well as practices recommended by Federal conservation programs to improve biodiversity and wildlife habitat on farms.
We hope that you can take a few minutes and submit a comment in support of small farms like ours. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has a great summary and sample template comments for consumers and farmers.
You can learn more about FSMA on the NOFA-VT blog (and in many other places online).
This Thursday, October 3 is the annual Share the Harvest fundraiser for NOFA-VT's Farm Share program, which helps limited-income Vermonters afford CSA shares from farms like ours all across Vermont.
It's easy to participate in Farm Share - just dine or shop at a participating business on Thursday. There are about 70 restaurants and co-ops across VT participating - local ones include American Flatbread, Fire and Ice, Green Peppers, Otter Creek Bakery, Stone Leaf Teahouse, Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op, and the Waybury Inn in Middlebury, Almost Home Market in Bristol, and Rutland Area Food Co-op and Three Tomatoes Trattoria in Rutland. These businesses have pledged to give a portion of their day's proceeds to Farm Share. You can find the full list at www.nofavt.org/STH.
We're also excited to announce that Addison County has received special funding for Farm Share from the Addison County Department of Health, so NOFA-VT is able to offer 75% funding for shares, rather than the usual 50%. This applies to our Winter Share, so folks who qualify would pay just $62.50 for 8 weeks of vegetables! To see if you qualify, please visit the NOFA-VT website. Farm Share applications are also available at that link.
The Farm Share program generally works by combining contributions from Share the Harvest with funds that farms raise in their communities, so that the CSA member pays 50% of the share cost, NOFA-VT pays 25%, and the farm contributes 25%. In addition to participating in Share the Harvest, we invite you to donate directly to the program on behalf of Gildrien Farm, so that we can help everyone in our community have access to fresh, healthy food. Thanks!
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