The Impact of the Bounty Bag Program

Sharing the Bounty Through our CSA Program

When we envision community-supported agriculture, what often comes to mind? Perhaps a way to strengthen the community food system, reduce the number of miles your food travels from farm to plate. Here at Petaluma Bounty, our CSA program is a partnership between the local community and our farm nestled within it. Given the name, Bounty Bags, it is not only an avenue to bolster our local food system — it is also a key manifestation of our mission to make healthy food affordable and accessible to all.

We offer bags at half-price for CalFresh customers (made possible by a FINI grant administered by the Interfaith Sustainable Food Collaborative) and 30% discounted bags for community members who self-identify as low-income (funded by community donations and sponsorships). Since this season has started, we have made almost 150 bags for low-income community members and provided free of charge 37 bags to participants in our ALIVE program. Each week, it is a joy to see our members come to the farm, where we greet them with arms full of tomatoes and kale, parsley and strawberries. Our Bounty Farm Stand, propped right next to the Unity Garden at the front of the farm, serves as a way to supplement bags with other fresh produce.

We caught up with Ellie, a Bounty Bag member, who shared some of her thoughts on the program. Ellie has shopped at the Farmacy, our farm-to-clinic project and produce stand at Petaluma Health Center, for quite a while, and mentioned always having enjoyed her selections there. “But I wasn’t very adventurous,” she admitted. “I bought what I knew and was hesitant to try new items. Now I get the plentiful bag of fruits and veggies each week. It is wonderful, because, besides nourishment, it satisfies my curiosity. Each week, I research a new veggie, look up recipes and nutrition facts.”  

With the understanding that some crops may be less familiar to us (kohlrabi, for example), we like to feature certain produce items in our weekly CSA newsletters, with tips on appropriate storage as well as recipes. For Ellie, they are a way of showcasing how to cook with some unfamiliar produce – like Padron peppers.

“I was afraid they were spicy. I gave them to a neighbor, who knew what they were right away. My mistake. When they came again the next week, I decided to try them using the recipe in the newsletter.” Ellie took them to a cooking class at her senior community and prepared them with her own take on the recipe, sprinkling some Maldon salt on top. “Perhaps, another mistake…I am addicted!” Ellie says.

For us at the Bounty, our CSA program is an important and tangible way to connect with our community, allowing us to greet our CSA family with bags of fruit and vegetables only steps from where these crops are grown. Fostering positive relationships to food, cultivating the connection between the land and our meals, and empowering each other to take new steps in our individual food journeys are all crucial pieces of the Bounty Bag program.

For Ellie, the Bounty Bags are not only a way for her to buy fresh, sustainably-raised produce, but also serve as encouragement to experiment, to take risks. “All things that keep you young,” says Ellie. We couldn’t agree more.

To learn more about the Bounty Bags, how the price structure fits into our Local Affordable Food Incentives, and what you can do to support, please click here.

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