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What is the Farm Fresh & Free program?

Farmshed has an exciting new opportunity to distribute locally grown produce (FOR FREE) to the community. This seasonal distribution will occur on a weekly basis starting in July and through the remainder of the growing season. We served 155 people in our first two days of distribution, and still had produce left over to donate to other food charity organizations. After a couple of weeks, we have been able to serve over 470 different individuals and their families, ages ranging from 2 years old to 88 years. We have a variety of crops including carrots, kohlrabi, broccoli, kale, cucumbers, zucchini, and more that will keep changing with the season!

But where are we getting all this produce from? Who’s growing it?

A couple of months ago, Farmshed staff member Ann Vang offered technical and language assistance for farmers with grant applications through Marbleseed (formerly known as Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Center, or M.O.S.E.S). These grants from the Local Food Purchasing Program (LFPA), which allowed direct payments from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the farmers, that support new, small, and/or locally marginalized farmers. Recipients of the grants received ⅓ of the reward right away for beginning farm operations. Ann’s support with technology and language translation allowed many Hmong farmers to be awarded grants in the Stevens Point and Wausau area. It is because of her help and Farmshed’s specialization in working with small farms that we are able to receive LFPA produce to distribute for free to our local community. We have coined the name Farm Fresh and Free for this distribution, as we are better ensuring more people have access to healthy, whole, and local produce.

If you are familiar with Badger Boxes, the Farm Fresh and Free distribution is a similar process. We do not require photo identification or proof of income, but will have you self-verify your income eligibility with us at pick up, as well as give us your name, address, household size, and age. Having a registration process like this allows the pick up to go by fast while allowing us to still ensure we are serving those who are eligible.

Having access to and consuming a variety of vegetables is an important part of the diet at all stages of life. Vegetables and other produce contain many vitamins, fiber, and phytochemicals (which are believed to prevent cell damage) that support us in having an active life. Fresh, quality produce is one of the more expensive products you can buy at the grocery store or farmers market. Many people opt for canned or frozen produce because of the cheaper prices. Canned and frozen products can be just as nutritious as fresh, but this program allows people to choose fresh vegetables, utilize local food, and participate in the local food system. More so, there are many cultural vegetables that are not available canned or frozen, or in grocery stores in general, that we are able to distribute from Hmong farmers.

We do not have set dates of distribution yet, as what we have available is largely dependent on the weather, the amount harvested, and when farmers have availability to drop off produce. The fastest way to hear about this program is on our website, Facebook, and Instagram page. We are also compiling an email list to notify interested individuals more directly. If you want to be added to the list, please email to be added.

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