Crown Heights Farm Share: More Than Just a Box of Veggies
Crown Heights Farm Share has created a strong sense of community for its members through bake sales, cooking demonstrations, and other initiatives. The pick-up site is located in the dining hall of Georgia’s Place, a residence for formerly homeless adults, and the CSA has hard worked to integrate the residents with the broader community by involving them in the CSA.
“Several years back, the neighborhood was starting to gentrify, and our CSA only had maybe 10 members of color out of almost 200 members. This did not reflect the population of Crown Heights,” says Core Group Member Terri White.
According to Terri, their Ambassador and Affordable Share Programs have been highly successful approaches to diversifying the population of the CSA and making sure that it includes people of all income levels. Crown Heights Farm Share is also one of 14 CSAs that benefits from Just Share, Just Food’s CSA subsidy program, which subsidizes the cost of CSA by matching SNAP payments.
Crown Heights Farm Share Ambassadors are low-income community members who are either current or prospective members of the CSA. They do outreach in the neighborhood to spread the word about the CSA and its flexible payment options to other low-income Crown Heights residents and encourage them to join. The idea was that Ambassadors should be members of the population that the CSA was targeting, in order to better reach these community members.
According to Terri, the result was a 65% increase in sign-ups. “We even have a waitlist of close to 100 low-income families who want to join the CSA,” she says.
In return for their outreach work, Ambassadors receive a free or subsidized CSA share.
“Healthy food in this neighborhood can be very, very expensive. It’s hard to find affordable quality produce, and eating healthy becomes a choice,” Ambassador Phoenix Brooks says about options for good food in Crown Heights. “The CSA has exposed my family to vegetables we never would have known about, and I am very vocal about that.”
“The Farm Share has really brought back a sense of community,” Phoenix says. “You get to know the other members, and the residents of Georgia’s Place, they’re great too. We are losing that as the neighborhood changes, but the CSA helps us focus on the importance of community.”
Terri agrees. “Come to any pick-up, and you’ll see kids playing in the courtyard, people exchanging recipes. It is much more than a way to get your vegetables.”
Want to help Just Food ensure that Crown Heights Farm Share and other CSAs can continue to be accessible to low-income families? Donate to the Just Share campaign so that 65 families can join their CSA this season.