By Christine Hill, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont

Farm Stand Together, a mutual aid food program providing gift cards for use at farm stands across Vermont, launched this month.

Through the program’s website, Vermonters experiencing food insecurity are invited to request gift cards to use at their local farm stand.

This is a pilot version of Farm Stand Together and funds are limited. While there is no formal eligibility process, applicants will be prioritized based on need, location, and farmstand capacity. Gift cards will provide a minimum of $50, but the final number of cards and total funds distributed through the program is dependent on the number of applications and the level of need from applicants.

Local farm stand

Photo contributed

Farm Stand Together is organized by Meaghin Kennedy and Justin Reidy, who relocated to Vermont from Oregon three years ago before the most recent wave of COVID-induced migrations. The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) is consulting on the project, as NOFA-VT runs similar food access programs subsidizing the costs of CSAs and farmers market products for low-income Vermonters.

“We were inspired to start Farm Stand Together after living through two pandemic years in Vermont and seeing the important role farm stands played in local communities,” said Kennedy. “A silver lining of the pandemic was that farm stands were able to truly serve their communities, going beyond selling vegetables and fruit to include many value-added products and becoming a near replacement for a trip to a grocery store. In addition, farm stands moved away from only accepting checks and cash to installing digital Point of Sales systems that allow for ease of transactions. We are lucky enough to have several amazing farmstands in our own community and we’ve seen firsthand the friendliness and sense of connection they provide.”

“Farm Stand Together is a community-based grassroots effort to increase food access and food justice while supporting the viability of Vermont farms,” said NOFA-VT Executive Director Grace Oedel. “Farm Stands are a critical direct market for many Vermont farms. We’re grateful to support an effort aimed to lower barriers to organic, farm fresh foods for more people. We love seeing projects like this emerge spontaneously from community members!”

Learn more about Farm Stand Together on the website.