Earlier this year, we introduced our Sponsor-A-Box Fundraiser through a blog post where we highlighted that we were raising $8,000 with Singing Frogs Farm, and Sonoma Family Meal to ensure access to fresh, locally grown produce for community members on limited incomes; we updated the initiative in July to highlight that due to an increased demand in CalFresh/SNAP funds at the state and federal level, we were not awarded a grant to cover the the 50% discount for CalFresh customers at local farm stands and CSAs. Together, our amazing community has helped us pull in almost $5,000 towards this initiative.
Petaluma Bounty has spent the last twelve years offering high quality produce to our limited income community members through our Bounty Bag program which has been central to our distribution. This year alone, we have been able to provide 12-14 bags a week for people in our community and will be doing a limited five-week winter CSA, specifically for our low-income members. Here is what a typical Bounty Bag looks like:
(Photo provided by Petaluma Bounty)
In this post and on our social media for the next two weeks we want to highlight, in their own words, what this Sponsor-A-Box program has provided to families this year as we ask you to consider helping us raise the final $3,000 in the next two weeks. Further, in doing this, we want to spend some time introducing you to our Bounty Bags and some highlights from Singing Frogs Farm so you know where the funds are going to and what they are helping build.
Testimonials from 2020 Bounty Bag Members:
“Being 67 and no end in sight w/ COVID virus I’m extremely grateful to have fresh vegetables and fruits. (without too much exposure)”
-Peter, Bounty Bag member 2020
“As a self-employed, single mom, the pandemic put us in a tough spot. Being able to get a weekly Bounty Bag, overflowing with fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, allows me to continue to feed my family quality food. With every bite or new creation (you gotta get creative when you’ve never made kohlrabi before!) we delighted in knowing that our food came “from the farm” right here in town. You can’t get more local than that. I love this community!”
-Heather, Bounty Bag member 2020
“I had a conversation recently with a Professor about the bounty of fresh fruits and veggies we have surrounding us in Sonoma County and yet there are many who struggle to achieve access to them much less at a price that fits their extremely tight budget. To know that my family can count on Petaluma Bounty Farm to provide us access to the tastiest, most nutritious produce at an affordable price means more to us than words can ever express. Not only that but the individuals associated with the farm are some of the most supportive, understanding, non-judgemental individuals you will ever meet. I feel blessed to have been introduced to this wonderful community. Thank you for all you do!”
-Orleana, Bounty Bag member 2020
There are so many important things to highlight from these testimonials but there are two things that stand out in particular that highlight the importance of our sliding scale farmstand and Bounty Bags: 1) safe and consistent access to locally grown food when the conventional food supply chain has buckled and 2) that people don’t have to compromise quality of food choices for family when resources are uncertain and restricted. And, we are not alone in the work that we are doing! In pairing up with Singing Frogs Farm, an unique, no-till, ecologically beneficial, highly intensive vegetable farm in Sebastopol, we are able to help provide a 50% EBT match for their CSA members as well. Below are a few testimonials from Singing Frogs CSA members.
(Photo provided by Singing Frogs Farm)
Testimonials from 2020 Singing Frogs CSA Members:
*all testimonials from Singing Frogs are anonymous, per request*
“Singing Frogs Farm is a valued resource of the community. When I visited their farm last spring, I was astounded by the significant steps they have taken to ensure a low-impact, high yield no-till farm. Their farming practice contributes to the decrease in CO2 in the atmosphere simultaneously helping provide pesticide-free produce to their beloved customers. Through the years, I have learned that one of the most important ways to reduce my food’s carbon footprint is to buy from local farmers like them. Singing Frogs’ mission statement and location both contribute to the reason why my family enjoys ethically sourced food. It has been such a joy being able to enjoy your vegetables knowing where they come from and how it is being produced. This year alone, I have seen much produce being sold in bog box locations being recalled for various reasons. However, with this year being the beginning of a pandemic year, my family needs food assistance from the government. Without the CSA match, I will not be able to continue with this amazing program. I am forever grateful for your tremendous fundraising efforts.”
“My adult daughter, who has a learning disability, has lately taken great interest in her diet and in doing meal preparation herself. She maintains her own groceries on a limited budget. The matched-funding CSA boxes she has received from Singing Frogs Farm has enabled her to explore a wide range of new recipes, to develop new and better preparation skills and has improved her health with the freshest vegetables possible. We are very grateful.”
“Not only do I depend on my CSA matching-fund box for fresh produce, but in the time of the Coronavirus, it means that I have *guaranteed* food every week that is safely grown and handled—which is huge for me as a person with a digestive autoimmune disease, who can’t always make it to the grocery store or the farmers market.”
Much like the Bounty Bags, the EBT CSA from Singing Frogs highlights that it is helping people reduce their carbon footprint, fundraise on behalf of a larger community-farm and consumers, and maintain their independence
(Photo provided by Singing Frogs farm)
If you would like to partner with us as we seek to close out this fundraising goal please stop by one of our outlets to donate or click here to give online! You can find us at our farmstand on Thursdays from 3-6 (2-5, as of November 5th) at 55 Shasta Ave. or on Saturdays at the Walnut Park Farmers’ Market from 2-5 until the end of November.
Historical Context of our sliding scale CSA and Farmstand:
As mentioned above, Petaluma Bounty has offered a sliding scale CSA (weekly produce subscription) and farm stand since the first season of the Bounty Farm in 2008. Since then, we have sought numerous funding mechanisms including corporate sponsorship, private donations, and grant funds.
In 2014, Bounty Director, Suzi Grady completed the Leadership Institute for the Ecology and Economy (now part of Daily Acts) and published a CalFresh enrollment toolkit for Farmers as her final project. Collaborators on that project included Elizabeth Kaiser of Singing Frogs Farm, Melita Love of Farm to Pantry, Maggie Fleming of the County of Sonoma and Angela Wooten of Foodies Project. By leveraging Bounty’s experience of applying for CalFresh, Grady brought first-hand knowledge of the barriers to connecting CalFresh users with local farms.The group was able to get Singing Frogs Farm an EBT machine and published a toolkit that was distributed state-wide.
Bounty continues to leverage the technical expertise of operating the EBT machine, nutrition incentives on our farm and across 15 farmers markets, and now crowdfunding for the benefit of limited income customers and fellow farmers. When the most recent grant funding for CSA boxes expired, we knew we had to reactivate our Sponsor-A-Box Fund. And we were happy to collaborate with Singing Frogs Farm to help them be able to offer the nutrition incentives for CalFresh customers. It is our hope that together we can reach a broader audience of potential donors who see the need, now more than ever, to support healthy eating, small farmers, and their local economy. Further, we will continue to seek ongoing funding and grants to offer CalFresh incentives to additional CSA farmers in our region. This is part of our mission and how we at the Bounty can leverage our community-inspired initiatives to make an even larger impact!