In 2021, despite challenges and funding setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, The FruitGuys Community Fund was able to support three small farms. Grant awards totaling nearly $15,000 were awarded to farms and agricultural nonprofits on the East coast, West coast, and South/Central regions for environmental sustainability projects. We’ve just received updates from our 2021 class of grantees and, in spite of some challenges, the farms continue to do incredible work!
Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram’s Garden located in Southwest Philadelphia, PA, is a 4-acre community-led, African-focused urban farm that grows and distributes 15,000 pounds of produce each year. The pandemic underscored the essential nature of the farm and the growing need for continued efforts to support neighborhood food sovereignty, invest in local youth and families, and ensure safe outdoor space for all. They received a $5,000 grant to enhance their pollinator plantings, beehive maintenance, and related youth educational programming.
Sankofa was able to complete activities according to their original timeline and faced no major challenges in completing their projects, said Caroline Winschel, Director of Development and Communications.
The farm achieved the following goals of their grant:
- Maintained 9 beehives in the upper meadow in partnership with PA Beekeepers’ Association
- Increased pollinator-friendly plant collection by 25 species
- Provided hands-on education to 4,000 local school children
- Hosted 2,000 attendees for Honey Fest
- Grew and distributed 60,000 vegetable starts and seedlings to 130 local community gardeners
- Provided 15,000 pounds of food to the community
Petaluma Bounty is a multifaceted community food security initiative that includes the Bounty Community Farm in Petaluma, CA. The 3-acre urban educational farm grows sustainable, local food for low-income families, seniors, and individuals. They received a $4,995 grant to purchase supplies to add chickens to their fruit and vegetable operation. The addition of a mobile chicken coop with a solar powered fence and automatic door opener will allow them to rotate egg-laying chickens into their crop rotation, minimize mowing (and greenhouse gas emissions) in non-cultivated spaces, interrupt pest life cycles in the orchard and growing areas, provide natural fertilizer and minimize organic losses when produce goes bad, as well as provide eggs at their various sliding-scale sales outlets. Additionally, this will allow them to incorporate animal husbandry into educational programming.
Despite some delays due to staff turnover, the farm purchased all of the items needed to implement their project and have prepared the community and new staff members in order to ensure long term success of chicken management at the farm. They are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their chicks later in August from a local breeder and can’t wait to raise them onsite. “We will take pictures and update you as soon as possible,” said Director Suzi Grady.
4MG Farm is a veteran-owned and operated, 11-acre family farm located in Sanger, TX. In 2017, Kevin and Christina Via started their community-driven regenerative farm focusing on biodiversity and holistic methods of growing soil to produce a self-sustaining ecosystem to provide beyond-organic food and educate the public about the benefits of a pasture-raised animal operation. 4MG Farm received a $5,000 grant to convert their well to a 100% solar for irrigation, pasture and high tunnel management.
So far, they’ve purchased and installed all the lines to bring the well water to where they need it. They have also secured the solar-powered equipment and pump and are just waiting to get the old pump removed before installing the new one. They experienced some hardship after Christina was in a car accident. “While all we have left to do is pull the well and drop the new one, connect everything and install the panels, it has been a challenge to get the old 600 ft. well out due to Christina’s bodily injury. The updated project completion timeline is the end of October 2022,” said farm co-owner, Kevin Via. We wish Christina continued healing and look forward to future updates from 4MG Farm.
Small family farms exist on the razor’s edge of profitability and personal setbacks such as a car accident can derail operations and provide additional challenges. Climate change in the form of unprecedented drought has resulted in unforeseen expenses such as increased feed and delivery costs to bring hay for animals who have no grass to graze.
Please donate to support the 2023 grant cycle and help make a big impact on a small farm. 100% of your donation goes to the farms.