The cost-share CSA pilot project is aiming to make fresh produce available to low income families in Cumberland County.
AMHERST – A new program launched in Cumberland County feels affordable, healthy fresh produce should be a right, not a privilege.
Members of the Ecology Action Centre, the Cumberland YMCA and Goodlake Farm joined forces to launch the Cumberland County Cost-Share CSA Pilot Project that aims to connect low-income families with healthy and affordable locally-produced food.
The project is the first of its kind in Cumberland County.
The average CSA food box in Cumberland County costs $20 a week. The cost-share model will make those boxes available for $10 a week to individuals and families facing financial barriers.
“This is a great way to get affordable, healthy food to those who need it while supporting local farms,” Jessica Allen of the Cumberland YMCA said. “The YMCA is all about active living and healthy lifestyles.
The partners hope to raise the difference through community donations. Monetary donations can be made at the Cumberland YMCA and a tax receipt will be issued for donations over $20.
Through its Strong Kids program, the YMCA is also pledging to sponsor five or more local families.
The goal is to get 40 subscribers initially and then grow the program further in Cumberland County.
“It was the brainchild of Goodlake Farm. They had a vision of getting a subsidized food box program going locally. Eating health is good, but it’s not always affordable,” Sue Morin from the Ecology Action Centre said. “We’re hoping to be able to remove some financial barriers that exist with healthy food.”
Morin said it’s also not a handout, since the low-income subscribers will be expected to half the cost of the food boxes.
Along with the food boxes, there will be recipes and free food training opportunities.
She said the goal is to get healthy food to the most vulnerable in the community.
According to the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, the number of active farms in Cumberland County has been steadily declining over the last three decades. Morin said linking communities to their local food suppliers will help ensure these growers remain viable and in business.
“As well, local food projects help to make us less dependent on food that must travel long distances to reach us,” she said. “That helps reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, which is healthier for us and the environment.”
Jamie Lake, who operates Goodlake Farm with Trish Goodwin, said the produce available will vary through the growing season from leafy vegetables early on to tomatoes, potatoes and other late-season veggies.
There will be green beans, broccoli, peas, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, beet greens, lettuce, cucumbers, onions, salad mix, spinach and more. All if it is grown locally and all if it will be grow without the use of pesticides.
“It will be fresh from the farm and it will be affordable,” Lake said. “We believe there are a lot of people out there who want farm fresh produce, but may not find it affordable. By working with our partners, we’re hoping this program will support local farming and help bring about a healthier community.”
Lake said he has often talked to people who want to eat fresh, locally-produced food, but find it expensive. He said the higher cost is because there aren’t many farmers left. If more people choose local food, more farmers will produce it and the cost will come down.
More information on the program is available by logging on to goodlakefarm.com (click on the Cost Share CSA tab), emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 546-2767 or the Cumberland YMCA.