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Fresh Local Produce for Low-Income Seniors! Maine Senior FarmShare Enrollment Begins
March 8, 2011
Contact: Julie Waller
AUGUSTA—Maine seniors, age 60 or older (55 if Native American), with individual incomes below $20,147 (individual) and $27,214 (couples) are eligible to receive $50 of free fresh locally grown vegetables, fruits, and herbs during the upcoming season through the Maine Senior FarmShare Program. Approximately 17,000 seniors and more than 120 farmers statewide will participate in 2011. Interested seniors are encouraged to contact the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) toll-free at 1-877-353-3771 to find a local participating farm. The list of participating farmers is also available on the Internet at http://getrealmaine.com/. Click on the Maine Senior FarmShare Program Information link under Other Places to Go.
Participating farms throughout Maine offer a variety of methods for providing produce to seniors. Farmers will explain their individual farm’s offerings to interested seniors, and if both agree the system will work for them, they sign a “FarmShare” agreement, which outlines the arrangements. The supply of the $50 “FarmShares" is limited and is distributed to seniors by farmers on a first come first serve basis. Interested seniors are placed on a waiting list when a farmer’s available FarmShares are filled.
Based on a variation of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), the system is designed as a partnership between the farmer and the senior. Farmers must provide a broad range of produce and participating seniors must do their part by using their FarmShare regularly throughout the season in order to have a $0 balance at the end of the season.
The Maine Senior FarmShare program is funded through a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service grant. The program serves seniors by providing access to highly nutritious fresh produce, which many seniors find difficult to afford on limited incomes. It also provides an additional retail market for Maine vegetable and fruit growers who are paid in the spring for produce they will provide later in the season.
The Maine Department of Agriculture manages the Senior FarmShare program in collaboration with other agencies and organizations, including the Maine Nutrition Network, Office of Elder Services, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and the Department of Health & Human Services.
Seniors can contact the Area Agency on Aging at 1-877-353-3771 to find a local participating farmer. The AAA agencies can also provide information about other programs available to low-income seniors, such as heating assistance and other food programs.
Department of Agriculture Contact: Julie Waller, 207-287-7526
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