How Maine employers are supporting famers and the health of their employees
Real Maine asked the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets about a program that helps Maine businesses and their employees source Maine farm products.
Q: What is Bumper Crop? Is it part of employer health insurance?
Bumper Crop is a program that helps workplaces across Maine show appreciation for their employees and promote healthy lifestyles while supporting local farms. At its core, employers give their employees gift certificates to spend on local food at farmers’ markets. Employers only pay for the gift certificates that are actually spent (redeemed) at markets. We keep it simple for employers and markets by acting as the “middle man” for billing and reporting. Employers have an easy way to support local farms, their local community, and their employees with Bumper Crop.
Some employers fund Bumper Crops via their Workplace Wellness programming, which are often funded by their health insurance companies. For example, the City of Bangor and MaineHealth do this via their insurance’s wellness program.
Other employers pay for it with their marketing budget or other funds they set aside for employee events/benefits/rewards.
Q: How can I find a list of markets where our staff may shop?
Go to mffm.org/fms. There are over 40 farmers’ markets participating. We welcome all Maine farmers’ markets to join, we just need them to sign up (it’s free)!
Q: What about thank you gifts to clients? Will this program work for that? Do farmers or markets offer gift certificates, coupons or baskets I could use to say ‘thank you for your business’?
Yes — of course! Lee Auto gave away over $20,000 to people who donated to Maine Public Radio. Mossy Ledge Distillery is giving them away to customers this year. It all works the same on our end, employers order gift certificates from us, give the gift certificates to people (employees, customers, whomever!) and only pay for the gift certificates that are redeemed at farmers’ markets for food.
Q: What do employers and their employees say about this program? What do farmers say about it—is it helpful?
Employers love that they can support their employees and the local food economy in one simple program. It’s a simple process (and fast turn-around) to enroll in Bumper Crop and get the gift certificates in employees hands. Employees report that the gift certificates gave them a reason to go check out the market, and now they’re hooked (which is exactly what we want!).
Wellness committees at big employers find Bumper Crop to be a great wellness solution — we offer the full package with promotional materials (flyers, rack cards, magnets, and e-newsletters), and we arrange the printing and shipping of everything.
Over $30,000 in gift certificates were spent in 2021 alone by more than 700 Mainers. From end-of-year surveys with employees, we estimate that an additional $55,000 to $80,000 in sales happened at farmers’ markets because of Bumper Crop. The program is an easy add-on for markets that already accept programs like SNAP & Maine Harvest Bucks.