Data from a pilot project that linked Louisville Metro Government employees with produce grown by a local farm indicate that the participating employees increased their vegetable consumption by an average of two servings per day.
Forty-one employees from three Metro Government departments — Youth Detention Services, Resilience and Community Services and Public Health and Wellness — participated in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) as an Employee Benefit initiative. At the outset of the initiative, employees paid up-front for future deliveries of vegetables from Rootbound Farm in Crestwood. The up-front payment schedule was designed to provide financial stability for local farming while promoting commitment to the project among employees.
A full share was $649.00 and a small share was $462.00. This was discounted by $200 for each participant by employer contributions. Each participant received weekly deliveries of organic vegetables for 22 weeks.
Researchers from University of Kentucky’s Department of Agricultural Economics found that the 27 participating employees who returned surveys reported that they increased their vegetable consumption by two servings per day, from an average of 4.2 to 6.3 servings per day. This put them within the CDC and USDA recommended range of 5 to 7 servings per day. Respondents also reported eating less processed foods, gaining cooking and food storage skills, feeling healthier and having greater confidence in talking to their co-workers about food and nutrition.
“The results of the initiative were very gratifying,” said Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Department of Public Health and Wellness and the city’s chief health strategist. “We expect our employees to set an example by practicing healthy eating. The Community Supported Agriculture gave them a chance to do that while supporting local agriculture. We hope to replicate and expand this initiative next year.”
Bree Pearsall, co-owner of Rootbound Farm, said: “We were very happy to have Louisville Metro Government participating in the CSA Program. Their participation helps provide financial stability for local family farms. But even more important, the Community Supported Agriculture initiative is growing more than fruits and vegetables, it’s growing community and trust between consumers and farmers.”
The Community Supported Agriculture as an Employee Benefit initiative is a partnership of the Kentucky Farm Share Coalition, the Organic Association of Kentucky, the University of Kentucky Department of Agricultural Economics and the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.
Employers interested in weekly produce deliveries to their workplace can learn more about CSAs as an employee benefit at kyfarmshare.org.