To build more resilient local food systems, Farms Together coordinates collaboratives of small-to mid-scale family farmers throughout California to provide healthy, fresh, and local food to 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.

OBJECTIVES:
  • 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 in procuring 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. 
REQUIREMENTS FOR PARTICIPATION:
  • Any aggregator sourcing from small farmers is eligible and encouraged to apply. Socially disadvantaged farmers and aggregators are especially encouraged to apply.
  • While single-farm suppliers will be selected in some cases, most suppliers will be expected to aggregate from multiple farm sources, store products, and pack them into boxes.
  • At minimum, source CA-grown or raised agricultural products and appropriately pack to contract specifications (e.g. mixed product boxes, palletized). 
  • Prioritize sourcing from small-scale farms (see definition for small-scale below)
  • Deliver boxes to a food bank partner or community food access organization in your region at regular intervals determined by distribution agency.
  • Pay farms a fair rate on a timely schedule and maintain organized billing payment records to farms.
  • Follow standardized invoicing and reporting procedures to the network administrators. 
  • Maintain 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.
  • Present documentation of a food safety plan covering the aggregator and farm organizations.
  • Provide references or letters of support from buyers and suppliers ensuring the applicant’s ability to meet quality expectations (on-time deliveries, payments, and product quality).
DEFINTIONS:
  • “Socially Disadvantaged” refers to populations, cultures or groups of people who have been socially, economically or educationally disadvantaged by past discriminatory laws or practices including those who are Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Hispanic or Latinx, Asian or Pacific Islander, Veteran, LGBTQ+ and/or Women-owned and managed
  • “Small Farm” refers to businesses with an annual gross cash farm income of less than $350,000. 
HOW TO APPLY:
  • Coming soon.