We all know that the Adirondack Park is an incredible place to live and play in the summertime, but we also have to recognize what an amazing place it is to eat as well. This region of the Champlain Valley is home to some of the most beautiful farms and agricultural landscapes in all of New York State. Here at AdkAction we know the richness and vibrancy that local farms bring to our towns and villages each growing season. This spring and summer, our Food Security team at AdkAction has been working hard to bring the life and joy of freshly grown fruits and veggies to our neighbors all across the North Country who might not otherwise be able to access them.
Currently, AdkAction is piloting a new program to help bring locally-produced foods in reach for those hovering just above the poverty line, while prioritizing choice in the food purchased. This Fair Food Program provides funding to qualified households through prepaid swipe cards, called Fair Food Cards, to purchase Farm Fresh Packages and other sustainable-produced fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, and value-added goods sold by the Hub on the Hill – the first vendor to be added in this pilot phase – and over a dozen additional farm vendors, including many who sell their goods at local farmers’ markets and their own farm stores.
To qualify for the Fair Food Program, households must fall within ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed) income thresholds, determined by the Income Eligibility Calculator at www.adkaction.org/ffp
Beyond our Fair Food Program, AdkAction has also expanded a project launched last summer called Fair Share. This program, generously supported by over $60,000 in crowdfunding, works to match qualified North Country residents with their own local farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares. From June to October, participants will receive a free box each week from their respective farm that contains a mix of five to seven different vegetables, changing throughout the season based on what is ready for harvesting. The model is designed to support farmers in the region by providing guaranteed, advanced funds to help cover the high up-front costs of planting and the risk of crop loss that may occur from drought or unforeseen damages. In exchange, CSA members receive a hearty weekly portion of all the food grown on the farm.
Our Fair Share Program is transformative, in that it allows individuals and families of more modest income levels to access a type of direct healthy, local food acquisition typically reserved for those with means. This year, AdkAction has partnered with Tangleroot Farm in Essex, Juniper Hill Farm in Wadhams, and North Point Community Farm in Plattsburgh. Because of our committed program supporters, we are able to provide 100 families a CSA share at no cost this season, while still paying the farmers their full price.
The mission of all our food security efforts at AdkAction are to create a community-based food system in which all residents can participate and prosper, while supporting our local farmers and food processing businesses. We are incredibly grateful for the gracious members of our community who made these programs possible, and have helped us bring the bounty of our region to so many.