Multiple times per month, summer and winter alike, the third floor of Partners HealthCare’s Assembly Row, Somerville headquarters serves as a produce pop-up of sorts, hosting a pick-up location for community supported agriculture (CSA) shares for Partners employees. The organic vegetables and eggs, as well as fruits, are delivered by Stone Soup Farms in Hadley, Massachusetts, co-owned by husband-and-wife duo Dave DiLorenzo and Amanda Barnett. They began delivering the shares to Assembly Row in 2017, and today provide about 150 individual shares to Partners employees at that location plus Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Cooley-Dickinson Hospital.
Found in the crates delivered for employee pick-up each week in the summer and every other week in the winter: in-season vegetables, rotated as available, from common and familiar varieties such as sweet potatoes and greens to unexpected, unfamiliar produce such as sprouted broccoli—often uncharted culinary territory.
“Kohlrabi is a perfect example of this,” explains Michael Kazmierczak, a Partners Contract Manager who participates in the CSA. “I didn’t even know what it was before I joined—I would have walked right by it in the supermarket."
Convenience, adds DiLorenzo, is an additional benefit. “By offering the shares right within the workplace, Partners is helping to make organic vegetables more accessible to people who may otherwise not be able to seek out fresh produce,” he says. To encourage participation, Partners offers automatic payroll deductions for the CSA cost, which begins at $445 based on share options, so the payment can be spread out over the course of the season.
"This program broadens our horizons and encourages us to experiment with healthy food. It’s valuable to both the organization and its employees.”Michael Kazmierczak, Partners Contract Manager
Beyond the healthy-living benefits of the program for Partners employees and patients, there is secondary impact for both Stone Soup Farms and the broader community. DiLorenzo says Partners shares have helped to sustain the strength of his small business, generating about 150 of the 400 total CSA shares he sold last year. In addition, unclaimed vegetables from the program are gathered and donated to Project SOUP, which assists approximately 450 families in the Somerville area. The donation tax deduction is then provided back to the farm, for further community economic benefit.
“All the produce donated by the Partners CSA goes directly to our clients, giving them the opportunity to provide a healthy meal to their family,” says David Jacobs, Project SOUP, of the contribution. “We also believe that our clients’ ability to cook with fresh produce and quality ingredients helps them to feel they are providing well for their families.”
Read more about Stone Soup Farm here.
Image credits: Stone Soup Farm.