Legal Food Hub Celebrates 1000th Case

CLF program connects food businesses with free legal help


May 9, 2023 (BOSTON, MA) – Conservation Law Foundation’s (CLF) Legal Food Hub has placed its 1000th case bringing free legal help to farmers and food enterprises across New England. The program supports small farmers and food entrepreneurs with free legal assistance that they might not otherwise be able to afford. The effort began in 2014, and the milestone case helped Hemp Milk & Honey expand their footprint in Bridgeport, CT.

“Certain neighborhoods of Bridgeport are truly suffering from food apartheid,” said Hemp Milk & Honey founder Robert Peck. “The lack of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables is staggering, and the Legal Food Hub helped us expand our gardens so we can provide these important foods to those who don’t have access. Legal help with our lease was invaluable and left us free to focus our attention on providing for our community and growing our business.”

Hemp Milk & Honey is a community-supported agriculture business in which people can subscribe to get boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables from Peck’s gardens throughout Bridgeport.

“A thriving New England needs a thriving local food system,” said Scott Sanderson, Manager of CLF’s Farm and Food Program. “But we can’t achieve that if our small farmers and food business are left legally vulnerable. We help food businesses move beyond costly legal fees so they can focus on growing, thriving, and providing for their communities.”

CLF created the Hub in 2014 after realizing that only 10% of farmers use legal services, compared to 70% of small businesses in general. That leaves many farmers vulnerable when it comes to navigating the business complexities of running their farms, including incorporating, hiring help, drawing up employee contracts, leasing land, or transferring a farm to heirs.

Over the years, the Hub has assisted farmers 511 times, food entrepreneurs 213 times, and food nonprofit groups 281 times. The Hub now draws on a network of volunteer lawyers from 158 law firms across the region. Although many cases are relatively simple, the Hub regularly tackles more complicated ones, including the real estate legal work behind the Boston Public Market, which opened in downtown Boston in 2015.

CLF experts are available for further comment.