Farm Share Program

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March 1st, 2024 Update: Due to high demand for the Farm Share Program, we have closed the application and waitlist for the Spring/Summer application cycle. If you applied before March 1st, we will be in touch in the next several weeks regarding the status of your application. For those on the waitlist, we will contact you regarding next steps if funding becomes available. Thank you for your understanding, and please email [email protected] with any questions.

The Farm Share Program provides fresh, local foods to Vermonters in need of financial assistance via CSA shares reduced 25-75% in cost. 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 and receive a regular box of farm-fresh food all season long. This sales model provides participants with consistent access to local, in-season food and provides predictable income for farmers.

Note: At the 50% discount level, we can provide up to $350 off of a share. At the 75% discount level, we can provide up to $525 off of a share. Please note that we may not have enough funding for all 75% requests. 

We established the Farm Share 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 60 farms in 2023.

Please note the FAQs below to learn more about the program and find a CSA that appeals to you! Click here for a list of participating farms. If transportation is a barrier to you participating, please contact us and we will work to find a solution. 

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].

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. If you need assistance with finding transportation to pick up your share, contact our Local Food Access Assistant at 802-434-7177 or [email protected]
  • 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, typically 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.

Note: We request that applicants with an outstanding balance at a farm from a previous season not apply for additional Farm Share funds until their previous season’s funds have been spent.

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What is the application process like?

Update as of February 8th, 2024: Due to high demand, as of now all additional applicants will be added to  the waitlist for the Spring/Summer 2024 Farm Share Program. If funding opens up, we will email you with next steps. 

  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 802-434-7177 if you need assistance in picking a share size or type.
  4. Complete an online Farm Share Application. 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 802-434-7177 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.
  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 we do not notify you that funds are available after that period, please consider applying again the following season.
How does payment work?

The participant is expected to pay a portion (typically ½) of the cost of the share. The other portion of the cost is paid directly to the farm mid-season, through contributions from local community members, organizations, and businesses that participate in our annual Share the Harvest fundraiser. The subsidy is typically 50% of the cost of a share, with a cap of $350 in order to support the greatest number of households. Participants who do not need a full 50% reduction in the share cost are encouraged to request a smaller subsidy. In turn, participants who need a 75% cost reduction (up to $525 off) 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. 

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.

How do I determine what level of assistance to request?

In an effort to make the Farm Share Program work for a broad diversity of people, you are invited to choose which level of assistance meets your current needs. Please consider your available resources when selecting your assistance request. Below are some guidelines to reflect on, but please request the assistance amount that feels right for you and we will do our best to accommodate. 

Consider 25% assistance if you:

  • Are employed, or have other funds available to meet your needs (e.g., through financial savings or family support)
  • Hold a relatively high degree of privilege due to your race, level of education, gender, immigration status, etc.
  • Have expendable income for travel, eating out, entertainment, etc.
  • Own your home

Consider 50% assistance if you:

  • Have received this amount of assistance in the past and found it to be necessary
  • Share characteristics from both the 25% and 75% considerations

Consider 75% assistance if you:

  • Are unemployed or underemployed
  • Receive SNAP, WIC, or other public benefits
  • Intend to pay your Farm Share cost portion through a payment plan
  • Support children or other dependents
  • Have significant debt
  • Have medical expenses not covered through insurance
  • Have unstable housing
  • Have immigration-related expenses

Sliding Scale adapted from FairShare CSA Coalition’s Partner Shares Program

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).

Applications Accepted: February 1 until March 31, or until funds run out. Update as of February 8th, 2024: Due to high demand, as of now all additional applicants will be added to  the waitlist for the Spring/Summer 2024 Farm Share Program. If funding opens up, we will email you with next steps.

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

The summer and winter 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 we do not notify you that any funds have become available during that period, we encourage you to apply again the following season.

Are there other perks to participating in Farm Share?

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

How do I use my CSA share?

In addition to recipes your farmer might share in their weekly newsletter, food blogs and videos can provide ideas for using your CSA share contents. Below are a few: