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Meet Kim Ferreira and Stephanie Perks of Coastal Foodshed

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim Ferreira and Stephanie Perks.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
As part of a public health municipal grant, Mass in Motion New Bedford (MiM NB) began the management of the NB Farmers Market in 2014. Then, in 2015, MIM NB began a low-cost farm share program. When these programs started, we knew long-term, they would need a real “home”. As MiM NB began to grow in its work in food access, it became apparent that there was a need to continue this growth and expansion was needed.

In order to grow, we needed more financial management and other components such as liability insurance, and down the road, a vehicle for our goals of developing a mobile market. Due to the mission of MiM, which focuses on the Policy, Systems and Environmental aspect of food access and physical activity, the need to transition these program out of MiM and into its own space was now upon us in late 2016.

In 2017, we began working with the City to develop a transition plan and what they would entail. First, we moved our finances to a fiscal sponsor, which would allow us to be more efficient in paying our farmers and managing the farmer’s markets. We also began to work on developing a name for the organization, Coastal Foodshed, and our plan including our vision, mission and goals.

In Fall 2017, we were matched with an attorney through the Conservation Law Foundation Legal Food Hub and since, have been working to achieve our 501c3 status. Additionally, we are fundraising (which we weren’t able to do under the City) and connecting with stakeholders and the community. We anticipate getting our 501c3 by the 2018 summer farmers market season.

Has it been a smooth road?
For the most part, yes, but we have experienced the typical growing pains and challenges of a new organization, such as organizational development, deciding our core mission and direction of work/Programs, and working to reach our goal budget. Also, with many other local organizations working within the broad spectrum of food access, it has been a challenge to illustrate how our work adds value to the community and does not duplicate the work of other organizations.

Specifically, our focus is on building the actual infrastructure to directly help local farmers distribute local food within New Bedford. Without our work, many residents wouldn’t be able to buy locally grown foods, and farmers wouldn’t be able to reach larger markets.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We work to bring more local food into the neighborhoods in and around New Bedford, through increasing food access points such as farmers markets, low-cost farm shares and farm stands. We work with farmers and local food producers to make local food easy to access and affordable for our diverse populations.

We are known for our work in successfully managing and expanding the New Bedford Farmers Markets- with now 4 markets in the city, and a year-round presence with SNAP, Debit, and Credit accessibility.

Our most proud moment is being awarded the highly competitive USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant for our Farmers Market. This 3-year, $233,000 grant for our community is a “game changer” for us by increasing our staff capacity and allowing us to open up an Indoor Farmers Market weekly in the off-season. We are the only Southcoast community who offers a local food presence, on a weekly basis, all year round.

We are an all-women lead organization with the passion and drive to make a true impact on our region and work to develop innovative approaches to build the local food economy. This summer we will pilot a pop-up farm stand using a wholesale model and acquire new technology, Farmers Register, to track data that currently doesn’t exist.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
New Bedford has been a great city for our organization, as well as the surrounding towns. Throughout our years of work with Mass in Motion, the Mayor, City Councilors, local legislators, and other key city leaders have been more than supportive of the work, and this support has continued into our work through Coastal Foodshed.

One of the reasons we have been able to expand our work and continue growing is because of the vibrant farming community in towns surrounding New Bedford. So it was only logical to connect those farms to New Bedford residents and break down the barriers to accessing locally grown foods, including transportation and education/outreach.

We would definitely recommend starting a business in New Bedford. City leadership is supportive, accessible, and happy to help in any way they can. The city is also home to a vibrant working waterfront, and in recent years has become known as an arts and culture hub, with an increasingly busy downtown.

Contact Info:

  • Website: coastalfoodshed.org
  • Phone: 508-817-1795
  • Email: kim@coastalfoodshed.org
  • Instagram: New Bedford Farmers Market
  • Facebook: Coastal Foodshed

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