Open Farm Week provides activities for the whole family
If you’re looking for a food source that supports local farmers, offers value prices, and delivers all your produce in one place, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is perfect for you.During Open Farm Week, from August 3rd-9th, you will have the chance to explore outside the CSA box with visits to the farms that grow your fresh goodies.
CSAs are a great way to form a direct connection to your farmers. When you join a CSA, you are purchasing a season’s share of the farm’s products, and as a subscription customer you get the chance to know the people who grow your food. CSAs are most popular in the summer, but you can also buy a share from many farms in the fall, winter and spring. CSA members typically pick up their share at the farm each week, but some farms offer delivery or alternative pick-up sites. Shares typically contain a box of the fresh produce that’s in season, but can also include goods such as meats, eggs, and prepared food items.
During Open Farm Week, CSAs across the state will host tours and activities, providing a great opportunity to learn more about a nearby CSA or farm. You can head over to The Barn Yard Farm for scavenger hunts and snacks, or visit Berry Creek Farm for craft activities and wood fired pizza from the NOFA-VT pizza oven.
Building off of the success of NOFA Vermont’s 2014 Open CSA Farm Day, several organizations from around the state are coming together to organize Open Farm Week, expanding both the scope and the length of the event. Our goal is to strengthen consumers’ connections to their growers, while teaching them how to access Vermont-grown products. We envision this will become an annual event that engages both locals and vacationers in building relationships with our farmers and interest in our amazing working landscape.
Based on feedback from last year’s Open CSA Farm Day, we chose early August as a time when many farms and farmers markets are at their peak of production and have a variety of different products to showcase to visitors. We also recognize that one specific day might not work well for everyone, so have expanded the event to a whole week to provide the opportunity for farmers and food lovers to participate on whichever day(s) work best. NOFA Vermont has received funding from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Farmers Market Promotion Program to augment our CSA-focused Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture in order to expand our outreach for this event to all farms that market directly to consumers.
We are excited to be able to promote Vermont certified organic CSAs and farmstands as well as those that are members of NOFA Vermont. In addition, the Open Farm Week coincides with the annual National Farmers Market Week and we will be promoting markets that are members of the Vermont Farmers Market Association. To find more information or if you are a farmer that wants to sign-up to participate, please visit www.diginvt.com/blog/openfarmweekforfarmers. The list of participating farms will be updated on a rolling basis. Sign-ups end July 1 and by mid-July the final list will be set.
NOFA-VT is working with the following partners to organize this event this event: City Market, Dig In Vermont, the Farm-Based Education Network, the Intervale Center, the Neighboring Food Co-ops Association, Shelburne Farms, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, the Vermont Farm to Plate Network Agritourism Task Force, Vermont Farm Tours, the Vermont Farmers Market Association, Vermont FEED, and the Vermont Fresh Network.
The Vermont Farm Share Program is a cost-share program that offers financial support to Vermont households with limited incomes who want to purchase a CSA share from Vermont Organic Certified and/or NOFA-VT member farms. Many people lack the financial flexibility to afford the required up-front cost. In 2014, over 180 families were able to enjoy a season’s worth of produce as a direct result of the Farm Share program.
As a condition of the program, accepted participants are expected to pay 50% of the share cost. The Vermont Farm Share Program relies on collaboration and community support to fund the other half of the share cost. Funds are raised through our statewide annual fundraiser called Share the Harvest, through grants, and from individual donations.
In the end, the program is truly a community effort, with many hands supporting the cost of the subsidies. We welcome any contributions you are able to make to the Farm Share fund to enable us to provide more shares to limited-income Vermonters.
Have you ever been curious if a CSA is right for you but aren’t sure where to start? To learn more about CSAs and meet the farmers, join NOFA-VT and over 50 Vermont farms in our Open CSA Farm Day, Sunday May 4th from 1-4pm. During this time, CSAs across the state will open their doors for tours, questions & answers with the farmers, tastings, demonstrations and more!
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a type of direct marketing relationship between farmers and subscription consumers. CSAs invite consumers to directly support a farm or group of farms by purchasing a seasonal share of goods. Many CSAs in Vermont offer produce while some also offer meats, eggs, and other goods.
There are many different types of CSAs to fit different needs. Do you like experimenting with new vegetables? A classic “box” share, in which the farmer determines the each week’s share based on what’s in season, may be great for you. If you feel less adventurous or have a list of veggies you don’t like, maybe a “free choice” share would be a better fit. Many people enjoy going to the farm each week to pick up their share, while others prefer the convenience of a home or worksite delivery. Some CSAs offer products from multiple farms and may bring in “extras” like bread or cheese. Some farms offer shares only in the summer while others specialize in providing shares all year. Your options will vary depending on where you live and what the farms around you are doing. Visiting a CSA farm and talking with the farmer is a great way to learn more about their CSA and determine if the CSA is right for you!
We hope you will join us in visiting many of the Open CSA Farms on Sunday, May 4th. Everyone is welcome to this family-friendly event! For more information about the farms participating, visit our website or call the office at 802-434-4122.
Local Farms • Healthy Food • Strong Communities • • • the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont