farms together

Farms Together coordinates collaboratives of small and mid-scale family and BIPOC farmers to provide healthy, fresh, and local food to California families in need while opening up access to new and emergent marketplaces for local food. Through Farms Together, food hubs and aggregation partners work directly with producers to bring finished farm boxes and bulk food pallets to food banks and other community sites for distribution.

Farms Together was developed by the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB), Fresh Approach (FA), and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) with original support from the CA Dept. of Social Services & CA Dept. of Food & Agriculture via the US Dept. of Agriculture Local Food Purchasing Assistance Program.

  • Maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency by building and expanding economic opportunity for small, local and socially-disadvantaged producers in California
  • Support food banks and community distributors in purchasing and distributing fresh, nutritious food from farmers to food insecure community members.
  • Create a transparent process designed for inclusion that is flexible to the needs and recommendations of local food system participants. 

Complete our questionnaire to assess your organization’s eligibility and preparedness for participation in Farms Together. Please see the Project Summary document for more information about eligibility and project activities. Following submission, your application will be queued based on upcoming contract availability in your selected region. Network Administrators aim to review within one month but the length may vary. 

If you are an aggregating vendor (sourcing from multiple farms, on a weekly or semi-weekly basis), please use the Aggregating Vendor application. 

If you are a single farm vendor (consistently sourcing only from your own farm), please use the Single Farm Vendor application.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Due to a high volume of Bay Area, North Bay, and Northern Central Coast applications, approval for entities in those regions may be delayed. Thank you for your patience and please reach out to if you have any questions.


The Farms Together rubric delineates how bids will be evaluated and prioritized. By assigning numeric value to sourcing criteria, Farms Together seeks to create market opportunities for agricultural producers as well as aggregating businesses who have been subject to discrimination and exclusion on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and, where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or a part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. While purchasing from these producers and aggregators is not a requirement, it is a priority, and therefore they are referred to as “priority” throughout this solicitation. View the full grading rubric here.


Can’t find your answer below? Scroll down for a recorded focus group where we discuss the program further. Or simply direct your questions to

A: The goal of this project is to directly support socially disadvantaged and BIPOC growers in particular. We are requiring that vendors provide a list of their farmers with demographic information. We are trusting vendors to be forthcoming and honest in providing this information. However, accountability will be an ongoing responsibility of Farms Together administrators. In the farm supplier list required we will be requiring contact information of farms and as part of the reimbursement process, vendors must provide payment receipts or invoices to paid farmers. If we find reason to be concerned about the falsified identification of farms or the underutilization of farms provided in the vendor application, vendors may be barred from future contracts. Further, Farms Together will continue to be transparent about our accountability processes and decision-making. 

A: Contracted vendors will be required to submit farmer payment receipts as conditional for reimbursement. These receipts will be cross-referenced against the provided farmer list. We understand that sourcing is a fluid process and a proposed supplier list may change over a contract period. We expect a “best-effort” to source fairly and productively across all the farms provided in your farmer list, but anticipate changes as the project is underway. At the contract’s end, Farms Together administrators will review the farmer payment information against the farmer list and assess whether the mission was fulfilled. If there are concerns about vendor fulfillment of intended mission, vendor may be barred from future contracts at the discretion of network administrators. 

A: This project will be reimbursable. (Vendor will complete deliveries and submit documentation to CAFB for reimbursement). If the food is being delivered as a CSA style box, each box will have a set reimbursement of $36. Of this $36, we have $8.50 budgeted for overhead (admin, supplies and materials, delivery, etc) and the expectation that $27.50 be spent on food costs. 

If the food is instead being delivered in bulk, the vendor will be providing price and availability lists directly to partner food bank or community food distributor. Overhead costs should be incorporated into the prices set in the availability list.

A: Contract sizes will vary depending on the predetermined food bank allotments. It is our intention to break up larger food bank allotments to be able to cover multiple contracts in certain regions and support more participating vendors. We do not have the final contract sizes, but they will be anywhere from $100,000-$500,000 depending on geographic allocation. The minimum length of a contract will be six months. 

A: The grading criteria were selected through group consensus amongst Farms Together administrators with input from community stakeholders. We strived to honor the mission of the project to support socially disadvantaged farmers and BIPOC farmers in particular while also adding in other criteria that is important to stakeholders in the local food and hunger relief systems. The point allocations were tested through hypothetical applications and arrived at through group consensus. We feel strongly that we won’t know the result of this model until we see it tested in a real-application situation. The effort was designed to make as many groups as competitive as possible. As we issue the first round of contracts, we pledge transparency about awards and open discussions with contracted vendors and non-contracted vendors to land on a final point list. 

An important note, as of now, we anticipate there to be a lot of contracts that will be going out over the next few years. One stipulation not mentioned in the focus group on January 23rd, approved vendors with a current contract will not be eligible to win a second contract over an uncontracted vendor.

A: This was a very keen point brought up in the focus group and one the Farms Together team discussed. Based on this feedback, we will be changing what we stated in the focus group and previously. As of now, we will be only issuing the added graded points to American Indian and Alaskan Native growers and not those originating in Latin American countries. However, please remember that all Latino and Indigenous growers of any descent do receive priority points as determined by their identification as Socially Disadvantaged Farms under the USDA definition. The added point designation for American Indian and Alaskan Native and Black growers is due to the particular underrepresentation of those growers in California.

A: We understand that sourcing is a fluid process and a proposed supplier list may change over a contract period. We expect a “best-effort” to source fairly and productively across all the farms provided in your farmer list, but anticipate changes as the project is underway. As farmers are added, vendors will be expected to update the Farms Together team. 

A: The Farms Together program has an explicit mission of support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) farmers. In our grading criteria, we have point allotments for overlapping points assigned for POC and Black and Native American/ Native Alaskan Indigenous groups. To receive the points for POC representation, a farm must identify as the USDA termed Socially Disadvantaged Farmer. Within our application, we designate this as a Priority Farm. This definition includes all farmers of color as well as Women Owned Farms. The Farms Together program awards separate and extra funding for Black and American Indian and Alaskan Native. This is due to the particular disinvestment and underrepresentation of these groups within California. Therefore, for example, a Black owned farms would qualify as both a Priority Farm and receive those points as well as a Black owned farm and receive those points. A farm owned by someone of Asian or Pacific Islander descent would qualify as a Priority Farm and receive those points. 

A: Farms Together is designed to accommodate the diversity of local food aggregation. By Formal Aggregation, we tend to mean traditional groups identifying as Food Hubs. These could be online value chain coordination food hubs, warehousing food hubs, or other traditional distributors with an exclusive and explicit commitment to sourcing from small local food systems. Informal Aggregation on the other hand is meant to convey non-profit management or farmer-led aggregation. This could be when a farm is coordinating deliveries on the part of other farms, it could be a farmers’ market assembling CSA boxes on site at its market, or it could connote a collaborative value chain coordination between multiple stakeholders.

A: Race and ethnicity demographics are being evaluated based on farm and vendor ownership. 

A: Both BIPOC owned and Women-owned farms will be allotted point evaluation as “Priority Producers.” 

A: As of February 1, 2023, we do not yet have a dispute process outlined. Given the timeline of the project, we have not yet built out our accountability and oversight processes but will be doing so as the program launches and we understand better the practical experiences of those operating. As we write those protocols, we will share them out on the website and share with stakeholders for input and feedback. Ultimately, we hope to have a form of stakeholder feedback and advisory board to weigh in on process decisions. 

A: Given food safety constraints, the Farms Together team will itself not be paying contracted vendors directly for animal protein. However, should a partner Food Bank or Community Food Distributor have a need and desire for animal protein, those organizations will be allocated money who in turn can enter purchasing agreements with Farms Together vendors for animal proteins. Payment and delivery terms in this scenario would happen directly between those agencies and not be mediated by Farms Together. 

A: We recognize the importance of regenerative, organic, certified organic, and sustainable growing practices in the environmental stewardship of California farmland and environments. As of program launch, we will not be awarding grading criteria for farms that are using these practices due to challenging distinctions between certification and non-certification and the concern that prioritizing these practices would deprioritize small scale farmers of color. However, we will add organic certification as an ungraded point of data we collect in the farmer list and evaluate the program’s effectiveness at supporting these farms. We hope to be able to use this data to report on the program’s impacts and reassess the inclusion of this as a prioritized criteria at a future date. 

A: Yes. The Farms Together requires participating vendors to maintain a minimum liability insurance in the amount equivalent to the cost of the items sold to community food distributors and present documentation proving said liability insurance.

A: Third party certification is not required for program participants. . We understand that for many farmers third party certification is a financial burden. We are trying to move away from using GAP/other audits to prevent small farmers  from participating. If your operation does have a food safety certification, the certification can be used to satisfy the food safety requirements. 

A:  Yes. The food safety requirements depend on whether your operation is a farm, informal aggregator or food hub/distributor. Generally, the program requires participants to practice Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs), indicate their status under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule or the Preventive Controls Rule, and in some cases, provide documentation like a food safety plan. We understand that food safety is a complex subject. We are in the process of creating resources for participants to access in order to meet the minimum food safety requirements.  checklist with general requirements for participants to follow in the absence of any previous food safety plan. 

A: No. Food hubs and other applying vendors will need to explain how they verify that the farms they source from follow Good Agricultural Practices, also known as their supplier verification process. 

A: The only food safety requirements of informal aggregators are they attest that they follow current Good Manufacturing Practices, indicate their status under the FSMA Preventive Controls Rule and answer a series of questions about their food safety plan, including how they verify that the farms they source from follow Good Agricultural Practices. 

 Alameda County Community Food Bank Alameda
 Community Action Agency of Butte County Butte
 Food for People Humboldt
 Community Food Bank of Imperial Imperial
 Inyo / Mono Advocates for Community Action Inyo/Mono
 Clear Lake Gleaners Lake
 CalFood Logistics of behalf of Lassen & Modoc Counties Lassen/Modoc
 Los Angeles Regional Food Bank Los Angeles (RFB)
 Westside Food Bank Los Angeles (WS)
 Mendocino Food and Nutrition Program – Fort Bragg Food  Bank Mendocino
 Community Action of Napa Valley Napa
 Community Action Partnership of Orange County Orange (CAP)
 Placer Food Bank Placer
 Feeding America Riverside | San Bernardino Counties Riverside FA
 Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services Sacramento
 Community Food Bank of San Benito County San Benito
 Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County San Bernardino
 Feeding San Diego San Diego
 Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank San Diego
 San Francisco-Marin Food Bank San Francisco/ Marin
 Emergency Food Bank of Stockton San Joaquin
 San Joaquin County Aging & Community Services San Joaquin
 SLO Food Bank San Luis Obispo
 Foodbank of Santa Barbara County Santa Barbara
 Second Harvest of Silicon Valley Santa Clara/San Mateo
 Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County Santa Cruz
 Dignity Health Connected Living Shasta
 Great Northern Services Siskiyou 
 Redwood Empire Food Bank Sonoma
 Salvation Army Modesto Citadel Stanislaus
 Tehama County Gleaners Tehama
 Trinity County Food Bank Trinity
 Food Share of Ventura County Ventura
 Gleaners Food Bank, Inc. Yuba/Sutter