New Bedford Coastal Foodshed a Hub for Farmers and Consumers [TOWNSQUARE SUNDAY]
Coastal Foodshed, a New Bedford-based non-profit, is providing an important service for both farmers and consumers.
Located at 38 Blackmer Street, it serves as a food "hub," making it easier for growers to sell and consumers to buy locally-grown, healthy food.
Director Stephanie Perks and Program Manager Maisy McVicar stopped by Townsquare Sunday this week to discuss Coastal Foodshed and how it operates.
How tough is it to be a farmer in Massachusetts? The number of farms in the Bay State has dropped from about 35,000 in 1945 to about 6,000 today. According to the State Department of Land Use and Management, about 55 percent of those farms make less than $10,000 in sales per year.
Perks said Coastal Foodshed was started in 2018 to make it easier for local farmers to sell what they grow. She said Coastal has created a supply chain of sorts to get those products to consumers.
"We're able to get funding through government and private sources to purchase things like a refrigerated van, which allows us to pick up perishable products," Perks said. "Having that supply chain is one of the biggest things we've created on the SouthCoast for farmers that didn't exist before."
During July and August, for example, the program buys up to $15,000 worth of food per week from local farmers, then distributes it to consumers in a variety of ways.
"We have several programs where the food can go out," McVicar said. "We manage the New Bedford Farmers Market, selling some of the food there. It also gives local farmers the opportunity to sell direct to consumers."
Much of the food purchased by Coastal Foodshed is sold through its Mobile Farmers Market, visiting neighborhoods throughout New Bedford twice a week.
"We also offer a 'virtual' Farmers Market, so folks can shop online and get food delivered to them, or they can pick it up at the Food Hub on Blackmer Street on Wednesday," McVicar said.
You can learn more about all of these programs on the Coastal Foodshed website.
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