The Community Shares program is a collaboration between The Athens Community Farm and the Gang Greene Farmer Alliance, helping area food pantries by coordinating with growers and producers, raising funds, and delivering fresh food directly to the communities they serve. As a result, local farmers are provided with a dependable sales outlet and funds at a critical point in their growing season while pantries receive consistent and dependable deliveries of hyper-local, nutrient-dense food.
After starting as a community run micro-farm in 2021, the Athens Community Farm has supplied pantries with over 7000 servings of fresh, local vegetables, purchasing $13.5k in CSA shares from Greene County farms, while continuing to run a 24/7 free u-pick garden for local residents. Pantry patrons enjoy the weekly offering of produce, while pantry staff said it was easy to manage distribution because the demand was there and the Farm handled the delivery.
The Gang Greene Farmer Alliance is a collective of independent farms working to improve the resiliency and strengthen the tradition of Greene County agriculture by sharing resources and knowledge, fostering farmer-to-farmer connections, and collaboratively addressing interests of agricultural producers in our area. Through their diverse membership, the Community Shares program is able to offer a variety of organic vegetable and grass-fed dairy options to pantry partners.
All food donations are made possible through volunteer efforts, generous private giving, and local grants. The Community Shares pilot program is the only organized produce buying program available to pantries in Athens, Coxsackie and Catskill. Increasing the impact of this unique program will require additional resources we believe are available within the community.
For 2023, we will run a six month pilot program expanding Community Shares to Catskill and Coxsackie. The Athens Community Farm will take the lead on establishing advance buying contracts with local Gang Greene Alliance farms to purchase fresh, locally-grown produce and dairy in consultation with area pantries. Gleaning organization Long Table Harvest will aggregate and deliver purchased produce on Thursdays, along their distribution route. Each pantry will receive approx 2k in purchased produce during this pilot season, although the total amount will be adjusted based on funds raised. Orders will be placed with participating farms in early 2023 with deliveries beginning in June and running through November.
We will track our ability to raise funds, usage/reception of produce (as reported by pantries) and economic value provided to farms (as reported by farmers). If successful, we’ll continue the program in 2024, increasing funding and community partners.
Community Shares is a collective effort of the Athens Community Farm, Gang Greene Farmer Alliance members, The Lo Farm, Nimble Roots Farm, Stoneberry Farm, End of the Lane Farm, and the Coxsackie Food Pantry, the Athens Community Food Pantry, the Catskill Food Pantry, along with the Long Table Harvest gleaning organization.