Farm Share Program

The Farm Share Program provides fresh, local foods to Vermonters in need of financial assistance via half-priced CSA shares. 

A CSA (community supported agriculture) share is a season-long subscription (usually weekly) from a farm for a regular supply of farm-fresh veggies, dairy products, meats, bread, and more. This sales model provides participants with consistent access to local, in-season food and provides predictable income for farmers.

We established the program for Vermonters to access more healthy, local food while ensuring farmers are fully compensated for their work. The program has grown from serving a dozen individual families and three farms in 1995 to over 500 Vermont families and more than 50 farms in 2022.

Note: you are encouraged to pick out a CSA program that appeals to you prior to applying. Please check out our directory of local farms to find a CSA that works for you! Explore the farm's website to see their CSA share options.

Applications for winter shares for the 2022/23 season are now closed. The Spring/Summer Farm Share 2023 application will open on February 1, 2023.  

Are you an organizer of a mutual aid project that supports food security and farm viability? If you have a funding need, we welcome you to request support by contacting [email protected].

FAQs
What is a CSA, and how does it work?

 

CSA (also known as Community Supported Agriculture) is a sales model that connects people directly with farmers. When you sign up for a CSA at a farm, you pay in advance for a portion (or "share") of the farm's upcoming harvest. CSA members will receive a regular (often weekly) box of farm-fresh food all season long. In addition to having a steady supply of in-season produce, you directly support local farmers and typically spend less money than when buying produce from a store.

For most CSAs, you pay a flat sum before the harvest season begins. If paying the full amount at once is not possible for you, ask your farmer about setting up a payment plan.

Every CSA farm operates slightly differently, and we encourage you to pick a CSA that works for you before applying for funding assistance through the Farm Share Program. There are a number of factors you may want to consider when choosing a CSA, including:

  • The variety of food—Each CSA farm will provide different kinds of food, depending on what they grow and what partnerships they have with other farms. Some CSAs will just provide produce, meat, dairy, or processed goods like bread, while some CSAs will provide a mix of food groups.

  • The time and location of pickup—Farms typically have certain times and days of the week when CSA members can pick up their shares at the farm. Some farms also offer off-farm pickup locations as an easier alternative for folks that live in towns or cities.

  • The cost of the share—Costs of CSA shares vary by farm. NOFA-VT’s Farm Share Program can cover a portion of the share cost, up to a $350 discount. 

Find a CSA farm near you by searching NOFA-VT’s farm database. You can filter for farms that participate in the Farm Share Program under “Payment Options”. To learn details about a particular CSA, we encourage you to look on the farm’s website or contact the farm directly.

Am I eligible for Farm Share?

Vermonters who require financial assistance in purchasing a CSA share may apply for the Farm Share Program. Below are income guidelines based on 185% of Federal Poverty Guidelines. If your income falls within this bracket, we encourage you to apply for the program. However, we understand that other factors influence your ability to pay for a CSA share (e.g., medical expenses, childcare, immigration-related expenses), and anyone is welcome to apply. Please consider your available resources when making your decision and do what feels right. We do not require proof of income as part of the application.

SUGGESTED INCOME GUIDELINES
  1 Person 2 People 3 People 4 People 5 People 6 People 7 People 8 People
Weekly $497 $672 $847 $1,021 $1,197 $1,371 $1,546 $1,721
Montly $1,985 $2,687 $3,386 $4,085 $4,786 $5,485 $6,185 $6,886

 

What is the application process like?
  1. Determine whether you are eligible to receive a CSA subsidy through Farm Share (see question about eligibility above).

  2. Pick which farm you would like to receive a CSA share from. Click here for a list of farms, sorted by town, that are participating in Farm Share. If you are interested in a farm that is listed in the NOFA-VT CSA Directory, but is not listed as participating in Farm Share, feel free to contact the farm or NOFA-VT.

  3. Determine what size share you would like and how much it costs. Farm Share funds are intended to be spent on food items, rather than decorative products. Visit the farm's website to learn about what share options they offer. You may have to contact the farmer for this information, if their options and prices are not posted yet. Contact [email protected] or 802-434-7162 if you need assistance in picking a share size or type.

  4. Complete an online Farm Share Application (online application linked here). If you need to fill out a paper application (paper application linked here), print and send it to the NOFA-VT office. Contact [email protected] or 802-434-7162 if you need more assistance filling out the application.

  5. Your application will be reviewed by NOFA-VT and you will be notified regarding your application status within four to six weeks of submission. Note: If this is your first time signing up for a CSA, you will be required to schedule a 10-15 minute call with our Local Food Access Coordinator to make sure you understand what to expect as a CSA member and to ask any questions.

  6. If your application is approved, you will be provided instructions for next steps. This will include arranging payment for your portion of the CSA share directly with the CSA farm. If you are unable to pay your portion at one time, contact your farmer to set up a payment plan over the course of the season.

  7. If your application is received after we have allocated all of the Farm Share funds for a given season, it will be put on a waiting list for two weeks in case funds become available. If funds do not become available during this period, you will be notified that your application cannot be funded. You are encouraged to apply again the following season.

How does payment work?

The NOFA-VT Farm Share Program is a cost-sharing program that offers financial support to limited-income Vermonters for purchasing a CSA share. The program is available to Vermonters who live at or below 185% of the federal poverty income limit. Participants receive a subsidy for a CSA share from a local farm.

In other words, the participant is expected to pay a portion (typically ½) of the cost of the share, with the other portion being paid by contributions from community members and local businesses and organizations. Participants who do not need a full 50% reduction in the share cost are encouraged to request a smaller subsidy. This sliding scale system allows the NOFA-VT Farm Share Program to provide assistance to more families around the state. Participants who need a 75% cost reduction may request this on the application, which may be granted if our budget allows. If we cannot provide a 75% discount, we may still be able to offer a 50% discount. 

In an effort to support the greatest number of applicants, NOFA-VT is able to support shares up to a $700 value (pending approval by individual CSA farms). Applicants interested in receiving larger shares may do so, but any differences in cost will be the responsibility of the applicant.

People who sign up for a CSA share through Farm Share will pay the CSA farm directly. It is possible that your farm may accept a payment plan if you are unable to pay your part of the CSA costs in one payment. Early conversations with your CSA farmer are encouraged.

Who pays for the subsidy?

If an applicant is determined eligible for a subsidy, they typically receive half-off the price of a CSA share from a local farm, with a cap of $350. If the total share cost exceeds $700, the participant is responsible for paying the remaining amount after the $350 maximum subsidy. The other half of the CSA share cost is paid for by contributions from local community members, organizations, and businesses that participate in our annual Share the Harvest fundraiser.

  • Farm Share Participant Pays: 50% of Total Share Cost *
  • CSA Farm (fundraised through CSA Community Members): 25% of Total Share Cost
  • NOFA-VT Contributes: 25% of Total Share Cost

 

 *Participants are invited to pay more than 50% if they are able. Please indicate if you are able to pay more than 50% on your application. By requesting only the amount of assistance that you need, you are enabling the Farm Share Program to serve as many people as possible.

A CSA farm reserves the right to limit the share size(s) that are supported through the Farm Share Program or limit the funding available, in an effort to support the greatest number of households. 

When can I apply?

Applications are accepted in the order that they are received by our office. There are currently two application cycles for the Farm Share Program: summer (intended for spring and summer shares) and winter (intended for fall and winter shares).

Summer
Applications Accepted: February 1 until March 31, or until funds run out

Winter
Applications Accepted: July 1 until August 31, or until funds run out

The summer and fall application cycles are designed to be available at the start of most farms' spring/summer and fall/winter seasons. However, seasons may vary among farms, and some may offer CSA share subscriptions that span different seasons than those presented by Farm Share. For example, a farm might offer a "3-season CSA" that spans spring, summer, and fall. Or, the farm may offer a discount by signing up for a year-round share. If this is the case, please indicate in your application which season(s) your share spans. NOFA-VT aims to make this program as equitable and simple as possible and can provide a 50% subsidy on spring/summer shares and a 50% discount on fall/winter shares during the same application cycle if needed. Please contact [email protected] with any questions about your subsidy amount.

What happens if my application is not accepted?

If your application is received after we have allocated all of the Farm Share funds for a given season, it will be temporarily put on a waiting list in case funds become available. It will remain on the waiting list for two weeks. If funds do not become available during this period, you will be notified that your application cannot be funded. You are encouraged to apply again the following season.

Are there other perks to participating in Farm Share?

Yes! If you participate in Farm Share, you can also attend our annual Winter Conference for free, and apply for scholarships to our summer on-farm workshop series. These events offer community-building and knowledge-sharing opportunities on a wide variety of food system topics.