VINES Farm Share, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program based in Binghamton, NY, initially began as the result of a 2012 study performed by the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE) in Oneonta, NY. The study focused on increasing access to good food in local food deserts and found that convenience and price were the top priorities for residents when it came to buying food. VINES Farm Share emerged as a way to go directly into neighborhoods that lack fresh, healthy produce to distribute CSA shares from local farms. By accepting SNAP benefits and providing up to a 50% discount to income eligible members the residents were better able to afford the local food. VINES has worked with a number of different farms and during the 2018 season members have the option to buy a share from the Binghamton Urban Farm, Main Street Farms, North Windsor Berries, and Shared Roots Farm.
While originally a Binghamton based program, Farm Share has since expanded to Johnson City, Endicott, and in collaboration with the Food & Health Network two years ago to Whitney Point, NY. Kate Miller-Corcoran, Farm Share Program Coordinator, believes expanding to rural areas of Broome County is important because, “hunger and food-related health diseases don’t discriminate based on where you live. People lack access to affordable fresh produce in both locations.” Outreach for the program in Whitney Point has focused on advertising at Whitney Point School District, having a presence at community events like the annual Whitney Point Block Party, and flyering at local businesses. There has been successes and challenges during the first two years in Whitney Point and Miller-Corcoran believes that the program has been able to attract “loyal members, who are starting to create relationships within the community because of their passion for our program.” However, she also feels that “transportation is a huge barrier in rural communities and that is by far the hardest part of reaching people.”
Caterina Marchione began as a member in Whitney Point two years ago and loved her share so much that she transitioned to becoming the lead volunteer last spring. She believes Farm Share is important for the Whitney Point Community because “it gives us all a great opportunity to obtain fresh affordable produce combined with the pride of supporting local farmers.” She is also a fan of the multiple payment options that “make it possible for some of us who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford fresh vegetables for our families.” Miller-Corcoran believes that in order to continue strengthening Farm Share in Whitney Point it is important to, “continue to spread awareness, helping residents of Whitney Point understand the value of the program and why eating good food is such an integral part to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”
If you are interested in learning more about Farm Share and seeing their full list of locations, you can visit their website here. Additionally, you can find VINES Farm Share in Whitney Point every Wednesday from 3:00 to 4:30 at the Whitney Point United Methodist Church starting June 13th!