Bumper Crop: An employee benefit that pays local dividends to healthy food producers

Via Peters

NORWAY — The Federation of Maine 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. MFFM provides employers with gift certificates to distribute to their workforce as an employee benefit. The gift certificates are to be used at community farmers’ markets to purchase healthy, locally grown foods. Producers redeem the certificates for payment through MFFM, which tracks employee participation and collects the funds from the business.

The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets is looking for employers in Oxford Hills to participate in ‘Bumper Crop,’ an employee benefit program that promotes nutritional food provided by local farmers Supplied photo

Companies pay MFFM on a monthly basis for their employees’ redeemed vouchers; they bear no cost for unused gift certificates.

The program launched in 2019 as a pilot project with the City of Bangor and a grant from their health insurance provider. In 2020 three businesses took part, with 300 employees incentivized to shop at local markets.

Last year participation in Bumper Crop was extended to 23 employers and 36 farmers’ markets across the state. In the Oxford Hills region employees of MaineHealth, Norway Savings Bank and Lee Auto group were able to use their gift certificates at the Alan Day Community Farmers’ Market and the Waterford Farmer’s Market.

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Alan Day Community Garden participated in the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets’ Bumper Crop program, which connects Maine consumers to local farmers’ markets and promotes healthy eating. File photo

Alan Day Community Garden also distributed the $5 vouchers to shoppers at their Friday farmers’ market to increase their customers’ options for healthy food. Rocky Crockett, executive director for ADCG, said the program worked well, benefiting producers as well as shoppers.

“We added (Bumper Crop) mid-season last year,” Hannah Court, owner of Wandering Route Farm in Waterford and market manager for the Waterford Farmers’ Market, told the Advertiser Democrat. Even late, “we had decent success with it. We are still assessing our plans for this spring but I expect we will continue with it.”

Employees at Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway 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 email 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.

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“Our employees were able to use their vouchers at any participating market in Maine.”

Business owners and managers who wish to learn more about Bumper Crop can visit MFFM’s website or contact MFFM Executive Director Jimmy DeBiasi at 207-370-1524 or  [email protected].

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