It already has!
Meet Jenny Freeman, former banker turned farmer and resident of Poolesville, MD. Early on in the pandemic, she found out that the number of food-insecure families quickly jumped from 1 out of 12 families in Montgomery County to 1 out of 8 in a matter of months. As of January 2021, 100,000 families were accessing food assistance program in Montgomery County. In a different way, our local farmers were also significantly impacted during the past year: supply chains were disrupted, farm product sales to restaurants virtually disappeared, many seeds were hard to come by, and farm work and workers had to be significantly re-organized, if workers were even available at all. At the same time, Jenny also knew there were many families who had the means to give and wanted to help their community through this crisis.
Community FarmShare, birthed in November 2020 – right in the heat of the COVID virus’ spread – combined these three realities in a win-win-win solution! Her brand new organization contracts with local farmers for what is called Community-Supported Agriculture, or CSA, a business for which there has been a market for years: annual subscribers pay for a delivery of one box of fresh fruit/vegetables a week to their home from a local producer. They don’t choose the type of produce – they get whatever is being harvested that week – but it’s always fresh and it comes every week. Regular fresh produce, instead of highly processed food, has shown to be a leading health indicator.
But what about those that can’t afford CSAs even though they would gladly use it if they could? That’s where Community FarmShare comes in, finding local donors who are happy to give if it means knowing that a family nearby is getting healthy meals. They make it possible for low-income families to receive a weekly bag of diverse, nutritious fruit and vegetables from a local, small scale produce farm from the Spring to Fall growing season.
During 2021, Community FarmShare provided fresh farm produce each week of the agricultural season to 50 families experiencing food insecurity in Montgomery County and winter produce to another 27 refugee families who recently arrived in the DMV. In 2022, Jenny aims to more than double their outreach. A donation of $700 to Community FarmShare will provide one family with farm fresh vegetables for the entire typical growing season.
COVID has brought many burdens to our community; unfortunately, lives have been lost. But it has also birthed many positive developments that can bless the community now and even after the pandemic is over. Jenny Freeman’s vision, Community Farm Share, is just one example.
If you would like to support a Montgomery County food-insecure family through Community FarmShare, go HERE.