July 6, 2021
Jen Barbeau has been farming on five acres in North Adams since 2015, raising chickens, ducks, goats for milk, fudge and soap, vegetables, and producing baked goods, pickles, jams, and more in an on-site kitchen. She has been a SNAP/HIP authorized farmer since 2017, and attends the North Adams farmers market. When the pandemic hit, many farmers’ markets in the Berkshires shut down, leaving many residents without access to local food.
Mountain Girl Farm received $35,000 from the FSIG program for a vehicle to deliver their products in and use for pop up markets, as well as hot and cold containers to keep products at temperature. As the only farm in North Adams that takes HIP, Jen sees the program as a significant way to improve their business. She had heard consistently from her customers that live in low-income housing that they were having a hard time getting to the farmers market. She set up a relationship with the housing authority to set up a mobile market to serve as a food access point for the tenants. She wants to increase the frequency of their pop up markets to be more accessible to the residents as a more full-time service, as most of the residents are seniors and do not have their own transportation, and public transportation is very limited.
Because Mountain Girl Farm has partnered with local senior housing since they were authorized as a HIP farmer, continuing their service made sense when COVID hit. Jen was not able to go inside the senior housing buildings due to public health restrictions, so she instead delivered their preorders twice a month.
In early June Jen received the vehicle, and also marked her first time selling inside the senior housing, and the customers were thrilled to have her back. She is working to inform customers that she will be on site regularly thanks to her van purchased with FSIG funds.