NORWAY – The Maine Federation of Farmers Markets (MFFM) is looking for business partners in the Oxford Hills to promote healthy eating while supporting community farms.
The program is called Bumper Crop. The MFFM offers employers gift certificates to distribute to their workforce as benefits. Gift certificates are to be used at community farmers markets to purchase healthy, locally grown foods. Producers redeem the certificates for payment through the MFFM, which tracks employee participation and collects funds from the company.
Companies pay monthly to the MFFM the checks exchanged by their employees; they do not bear any costs for unused gift vouchers.
The program was launched in 2019 as a pilot project with the city of Bangor and a grant from their health insurance provider. In 2020, three companies participated, with 300 employees encouraged to shop at local markets.
Last year, participation in Bumper Crop expanded to 23 employers and 36 farmers’ markets across the state. In the Oxford Hills area, employees of MaineHealth, Norway Savings Bank and Lee Auto Group were able to redeem their gift certificates at Alan Day Community Farmers’ Market and Waterford Farmer’s Market.
Alan Day Community Garden also distributed the $5 vouchers to shoppers at their Friday Farmer’s Market to increase their customers’ healthy food options. Rocky Crockett, executive director of the ADCG, said the program was working well, benefiting growers as well as buyers.
“We added (Bumper Crop) mid-season last year,” Hannah Court, owner of Wandering Route Farm in Waterford and market manager for Waterford Farmers’ Market, told the Democratic Advertiser. Even late, “we had decent success with that. We are still evaluating our plans for this spring, but I think we will continue with that.
Employees of Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway have received Bumper Crop gift certificates through MaineHealth’s participation in the program, according to Jennifer Fogg, the hospital’s community relations and development specialist.
“Stephens is proud to support our local farmers while promoting healthy eating for our team members,” Fogg wrote in an emailed statement. “Team members earn vouchers by demonstrating our organizational values (Patient-Centered, Respect, Integrity, Excellence, Ownership or Innovation) or participating in wellness initiatives offered throughout the spring and summer. ‘summer.
“Our employees were able to redeem their vouchers at any participating Maine market.”
Business owners and managers interested in learning more about Bumper Crop can visit the MFFM website (www.mainefarmersmarkets.org/bumpercrop/) or contact MFFM Executive Director Jimmy DeBiasi at 207-370-1524 or [email protected].