A common mission: local produce + local clean energy

on March 3, 2022

Everyone loves the farmers’ market, including us. Fresh produce straight from the farm, local artisan crafts, delicious baked goods...what’s not to like?

That’s why you can catch us at farmers’ markets across the Northeast this summer. We’ve been spreading the word about community solar at markets from Woodstock, New York to Portland, Maine, and many places in between!

It is great to work with a partner who understands the deep impact climate change has on our farmers and food supply.

At first glance, it may not seem like clean energy and farmers’ markets have much in common, even if both depend on farms (solar farms, in our case). But when you start to think about it, there’s a lot.

Farmers on the front lines

First, farmers are on the front lines of climate change. They deal with the realities of a changing climate and extreme weather every day. Extreme weather events such as floods or violent storms can cost farmers billions of dollars in lost crops. Drier soil and higher temperatures affect what plants grow well in what areas and can dramatically change crop yields. Weeds and invasive species can thrive in hotter, wetter conditions and follow shifting weather patterns into new parts of the country, where they threaten crops and farmers not used to dealing with them. The list goes on.

So as we’re thinking about who can benefit from the transition to clean energy, farmers are near the top of the list.

Expanding access

Second, farmers’ markets are all about making it easy to find fresh, local produce. We’re all about making it easy to support clean, local energy. One of the reasons we love community solar is because it makes the benefits of solar power accessible to those who could use them most. You don’t need to install rooftop panels with community solar. Instead, you join a local solar farm and get savings back on your power bill when the solar farm generates electricity. That means anyone who pays a power bill can join, whether they own or rent their home.

In the same way, our farmers’ market partnerships make produce accessible to those most in need.

Our partnerships

With the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets, we help sponsor the Maine Harvest Bucks program, which helps thousands of people across Maine access local, healthy food at farmers’ markets. The program gives people who shop with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/EBT benefits matching bonus bucks for every dollar they spend at the market with SNAP, effectively doubling the value of their SNAP benefits for fresh, local produce. Maine Harvest Bucks is active in nearly 40 farmers’ markets across Maine. It’s been proven to help fight food insecurity and improve health, and it allows people living in poverty to shop at farmers’ markets with dignity.

Through our sponsorship, we’re helping make sure the Maine Harvest Bucks program can continue to serve the 5,000 households that rely on it for nutrition and food security.

“Arcadia’s sponsorship helps keep our program strong for the 2021 season. There are a lot of funding uncertainties for our program, and the pandemic has amplified this challenge. This generous sponsorship means we can stay focused on helping families, seniors, and others in need access more healthy food.” - Jimmy DeBiasi, Maine Harvest Bucks

We’re also sponsoring Farm Fresh Rhode Island this season. Part of our sponsorship dollars go toward supporting the Bonus Bucks program at Farm Fresh RI’s year-round Sims Market. As part of the program, anyone who receives SNAP benefits gets a 100% bonus when they use their EBT card at a large number of farmers’ markets across the state. So for every dollar they spend with SNAP, participants get an additional dollar in Bonus Bucks to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Farm Fresh is super excited to welcome Arcadia to our year-round market in Providence. It is great to work with a partner who understands the deep impact climate change has on our farmers and food supply. We all need to make adjustments, large and small, to ensure healthy, nutritious food is available in our communities.” - Leigh Vincola, Farm Fresh Rhode Island

In Chicago, we’re partnering with Green City Market (GCM), an organization that coordinates several farmers’ markets across the city, to expand their GCM for All program. The program matches Link (also known as SNAP/EBT benefits) dollar-for-dollar up to $15 per person every market day. It serves 900 Chicagoans from 55 zip codes. With our sponsorship, GCM will be able to expand the Link match from $15 to $25 per person and make more healthy, local, sustainable food available for more Chicagoans.

“Access to nutritious, locally grown food is a right, not a privilege. Last year, GCM doubled the purchasing power for food-insecure neighbors living in more than 75 zip codes across the city. Thanks to Arcadia’s contribution, we’ll be able to deepen that support in 2022.” - Mandy Moody, Green City Market

Let’s hear it for farmers’ markets! While you’re at it, see if you can join a local solar farm to bring even more benefits to your community.