Berkshire Grown Shares the Bounty

Valerie Schwartz from Berkshire Food Project.
What comes to mind when you think of Berkshire Grown? Odds are, it's the more visible aspects of our work: the Winter Farmers Markets, our farmer/chef events, and advocacy on behalf of local food and farms. However, there's a key program we run that operates behind the scenes-Share the Bounty. Read on to learn how this valuable program supports our local food system.

The goal of Share the Bounty is to help farmers AND hungry families by purchasing fresh food from local farms for distribution to local food pantries or kitchens to feed community members in need. We use donated funds to buy shares from local CSA farms, and each farm we buy from is paired with a food pantry or community kitchen. In some cases, the donation is used to allow the farm to offer subsidized CSA shares to community members.

Share the Bounty was created in 2002, and in that first year we bought shares from one farm to provide fresh local food for one food pantry. The program has grown tremendously, so that by the 2019/2020 season Berkshire Grown purchased 36 shares from 17 local farms. These farmers made weekly deliveries of produce, dairy, and eggs to community members in Adams, North Adams, Great Barrington, and Pittsfield in Massachusetts, as well as New Lebanon and Valatie in NY, and in Lakeville, CT. We're currently working to expand the program through the winter months, to address food insecurity and support local farms year-round.

A Berkshire Edge article published last fall highlighted some of the successful partnerships made possible by Share the Bounty, including Indian Line Farm's connection with the People's Pantry in Great Barrington and Off the Shelf's distribution of eggs to the WIC program at CHP. Farmers and food pantries have become aware of how much pantry clients value fresh food, and some pantries have even re-shaped their food storage to distribute more perishable products from local farms.

Unexpectedly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Share the Bounty has served as a framework allowing Berkshire Grown to provide extra assistance to farmers and community members. After cancelling our remaining Winter Farmers Markets, we were able to use donated funds (existing and newly pledged) to purchase vegetables from farmers who would have attended that market. Additionally, we worked with a coalition of 5 non-profits to get support from the emergency response fund administered by Berkshire United Way. We are buying milk, eggs, and produce from Berkshire farms, and getting it quickly distributed to local food pantries and school backpack programs in five school districts. Because of Share the Bounty, we had the right connections in place and could respond quickly to the current challenges of the COVID 19 crisis in the Berkshires.

How can you help support this program? Share the Bounty relies on donations to fund our purchases of local food. You can learn more and find out how to donate HERE.

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What We Are Reading:

Berkshire Grown's staff has grown!
Spring brings many new things, and for Berkshire Grown, we have two new staff members. We are pleased to welcome Sharon Hulett-Shepherd who comes to us from the Greene County Council on the Arts in Catskill, NY. She will take on the mantle of Membership and Office Manager for Berkshire Grown, fielding questions and keeping in contact with our community members, writing newsletters, managing all the office details and bringing another smiling face to our Berkshire Grown team. Sharon has historic roots in farming - her great grandfather and generations before him were sheep farmers who raised Merino sheep in Shaftsbury, Vermont. As a seventh generation Vermonter, her respect for farmers and her appreciation for their fresh food on her table come naturally.
A nd - in case you missed it in our March e-news, Andrea Caluori has joined our team as a Program Manager. Andrea jumped right in to planning online discussions with farmers, and working hard to help them to sort through the myriad of issues related to farming in a COVID 19 world. She will work closely with Jess Camp to develop programs and services to keep our farmers farming. Andrea has her own interests in farming and food - she raises two Alpine goats, makes delicious goat cheese, and is quickly becoming a maple syrup expert. Look for her column about maple syrup in the Maple Digest.
And - we bid a fond farewell to Alicia Rossie, our erstwhile Communications Director. Alicia will be undertaking many adventures, so keep an eye out for her in town and on the trails. Thank you Alicia for all your hard work at Berkshire Grown!

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Stay in Touch
Berkshire Grown's e-newsletter comes out monthly. 
Please send information to .

Margaret Moulton, Executive Director
Andrea Caluori, Program Manager
Jess Camp, Program Manager
Sharon Hulett-Shepherd, Membership and Office Manager
Join Berkshire Grown here .