Happy New Year!
As we welcome 2022, we reflect back on the past season and all that was achieved at Fresh Start Farms in 2021. What a year it has been! Together, we accomplished some amazing things.
The 25 new American farmers that form Fresh Start Farms grew over 100,000 lbs of vegetables that they sold through Farmers Markets, home sales, and the FarmShare CSA. Despite a tough growing year with weather and pest pressure, the farmers brought in over $174,000 in income from their produce sales.
2021 was also our second year at the Food Hub in Manchester. We saw tremendous growth at the Hub this year with a community of 332 FarmShare Members and the opening of a brand new Market! The Fresh Start Market opened in June and serves as an access point for healthy food for our neighbors and is Manchester’s only Double Up Food Bucks Market in the city, which means fruits and veggies are 50% off with SNAP/EBT.
Fresh Start’s Mobile Market brought fresh and healthy food to Manchester, Concord, and Nashua residents and got some upgrades this year with the addition of refrigeration and solar panels to provide the power! Over the season, we distributed 2,400 boxes of free fresh fruits and vegetables to the Boys & Girls Club and Manchester Housing complexes. In addition, thanks to the donors who supported the Food Donation Fund, we donated thousands of pounds of food to make sure those who needed it had access to fresh food during this challenging year.
A number of exciting grants were awarded to Fresh Start Farms to continue and expand our work in the next few years. A USDA Beginning Farmers and Rancher Development grant will deepen our farmer training work and expand the number farmers served. A USDA Community Food Project grant will increase food access through the Mobile Market, Healthy Corners project, and SNAP participation outreach, and a Farm to School grant will support Manchester and Nashua elementary students in learning more about growing and eating local food.
This season, 13 farmers applied for grants to build greenhouses through NRCS to expand their season extension capabilities. An ongoing solar project is planned to build a solar array at the Dunbarton farm to provide sustainable power for the farms, the Food Hub, and farmers’ homes.
None of this work would be possible without you. Thank you to our grant funders, FarmShare members, market customers, community partners, local producers, and everyone else in the community that supports Fresh Start Farms!