This is the first in what we hope will be a series of guest posts from our members. Maya Kosok, Founder of the Farm Alliance of Baltimore City, has provided this update on the exciting progress in helping increase EBT access that they have already accomplished in this, their first year of existence.
Moving swiftly from one corner of the city to another, our shared EBT machine tirelessly travels the streets of Baltimore. Monday at Boone St. Farm in East Baltimore-Midway, Tuesday at Hidden Harvest Farm in Greenmount West, Friday with Five Seeds Farm in Station North, Saturday at Whitelock Community Farm in Reservoir Hill and then Cherry Hill Urban Garden in the Cherry Hill neighborhood. That’s a lot of travel for one little wireless machine! That’s because nine urban farms in Baltimore City have joined together to build the Farm Alliance of Baltimore City as a way of sharing resources, operating a joint farmers market stand, offering urban farmer training programs, and more. Our shared EBT/debit/credit machine enables five of our member farms to accept EBT/SNAP (formerly food stamps) benefits at weekly neighborhood farm stands for the first time.
With support from the USDA’s Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education program and the Open Society Institute of Baltimore, the Farm Alliance is able to offer this service at almost no cost to participating farms. In the first two months of this new machine, one third of all sales have been to SNAP customers. In the future we are hoping to offer incentive funds to increase the purchasing power of SNAP customers and help grow this program. This is just one of the many ways that we are working to increase access to urban grown food and make it easier to farm in the City.