Summer Produce Pick-up
Most farms in the Boulder and Broomfield area are smaller, producing on 10 acres or less. With their smaller operation size, they also have smaller staff sizes. These farms find it difficult to donate as they do not have the means to deliver the produce they have after markets or when they have excess. The concept of the pick-up came from the concern of a small farm that wanted to donate but did not have the staff available to drive to the warehouse facility, which was dubbed the ‘Longmont Loop’. The VISTA proposed the idea to some of these farms to create a routine Monday morning produce pick-up throughout the summer. Monday was chosen to best suit farms that sold at the farmers’ markets on the weekends and would collect the excess from their Monday morning harvests for the week. The VISTA used the food bank van and had 3 farms for stops in the trial year. Volunteers showed interest in the program to take over for years to come. The program captured over 6,000 pounds of produce in its trial year.
Summer produce pick-ups resulted from the initial conversations with farms in the area when the VISTA began donor outreach. Many wanted to donate but could not figure out how it would work for them and their operations. Three farms decided they wanted to participate and found the program to be very successful. They were very happy with the results from the first year and are on board to sign up for next year. We continued expanding to other farms for summer produce pick-ups and successfully added on other area farms including orchards and other large farms.
After looking up which small farms needed help with pick-ups the most, the third VISTA worked on creating a ‘Longmont Loop’ where a van would travel from farm to farm in the Longmont area, as this area was identified where most of the farms that needed pick-ups were located. The loop started with around three farms in the area and two made consistent weekly donations throughout the season, in which farmers from all three of the farms have expressed interest in continuing with this program. The change in the amount of farms that were reached was due in part to a severe hail season during 2018 that caused farms to close, restructure, or focus on one kind of crop. Community Food Share continues to try and reach out to farmers to work with them on their schedule and budgets.