Small Farms Impact Environmental, Economic & Community Health
The FruitGuys Community fund is pleased to introduce the 2017 class of farm grantees. This year, the project awarded 10 small American farms and agricultural nonprofits a total of $42,913 in funding for sustainability projects. Our total awards grew by $2,750 and we extended our reach to farms located in Oklahoma and Maine. Along with these developments, we also modified the grant application process with an initial request for letters of intent (rather than asking applicants to take the time to submit a full application).
70 Letters of Intent, 20 Finalists
This year we received over 70 letters of intent proposing many impactful sustainable agriculture projects focused on supporting pollinators; conserving soil, water, and energy; extending the growing season and increasing harvests. Our review committee selected 20 finalists in-line with our Sustainable Farming Manifesto and specific outcomes for community impact, advocacy, and food security. Our passionate reviewers read each of the 20 finalist applications carefully and discussed each grant submission in detail in order to narrow the list to 10 farms.
Meet The FruitGuys Community Fund’s Class of 2017
Urban Tree Connection – Neighborhood Foods Farm, a non-profit organization in the Haddington neighborhood of West Philadelphia, PA supports community-led land reclamation projects that build capacity for food sovereignty. Neighborhood Foods Farm is located on a formerly abandoned 3⁄4 acre lot. Since 2010, they have grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs without harmful chemical inputs at little to no cost for community members, producing more than 12,000 pounds of food annually. Their, $2,500 grant will allow them to start a seed-saving project that incorporates culturally-important seed varieties and build an education program for the local community.
Chicago Patchwork Farms is a no-till, organic, and bio-intensive ½ acre urban farm in Chicago, IL. They produce mainly vegetables, eggs, medicinal herbs, preserved foods, honey, cut flowers, and a compost drop-off program. Twice a week, they host a 50 member sliding scale CSA pickup, and a pay-what-you-can farm stand. Their $5,000 grant will fund the purchase of an ice freezer, solar panels, a lean-to structure as well as, extra coolers and compost to support their new “Neighborhood Greens Program.” The program will bring fresh bunched greens to local convenience stores accepting food stamps. The freezer will aid them in producing ice on site, preserving peak freshness of the greens. The solar panel will generate enough power to offset the use of this freezer, and the lean-to will serve as an outbuilding to protect the freezer. The coolers will be used to stock the greens at local convenience stores that do not have adequate refrigeration space.
Foxtrot Organic Farm, a 6 acre certified organic farm in St. Charles, IL grows over 140 varieties of diversified fruits, vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers. All produce is sold within 10 miles of the farm through a CSA, farmstand, and sales to local chefs and bakers. Their $3,359 grant will allow them to establish a perennial hedgerow for beneficial insects and pollinators, increase soil health by applying organic cover crops and compost and minimize tillage through the purchase of a “tilther” tool, which preserves the topsoil layer and combats weed seeds in the soil, reducing time spent weeding.
Byars Family Farms, a 5-acre farm in Southern Oklahoma within the Chickasaw Nation, grows 12 different varieties of vegetables that are sold at farmers markets, their farm stand, and a wholesale account. They accept USDA SNAP benefits for the purchase of produce and seedling plants. Their $5,000 grant will allow them to build a hoop house and fund a mulch layer. The hoop house will extend the growing season and provide a space to grow transplants for SNAP participants. The mulch layer will increase yields of produce by concentrating heat, water, and nourishment.
Songbird Farm, a 13-acre farm in Unity, ME, grows certified organic mixed vegetables, small grains and stone ground flour that is primarily sold wholesale to a distributor, direct to natural food stores, and through a CSA. Their $2966 grant will allow them to build a rainwater catchment system on a 40-foot barn with a metal roof. The system will provide approximately 1000 gallons of water for every inch of rain, enough water to irrigate their two 100 foot high tunnels and potentially even more open ground. The rainwater catchment system will help the farm conserve water and also act as an example for other farms in the region looking for ways to become more sustainable.
Bertrand Farm, a nonprofit educational farm in Niles, MI, whose mission is to connect people to local food production and promote sustainable agriculture, health, and Earth stewardship, produces a variety of fruits and vegetable on 8 acres which are primarily sold through a CSA. Their $4,991 grant will allow them to establish a 500ft of perennial food project on a transitioning orchard site. These plantings will work with nature to eliminate pest and disease pressure, increase soil fertility, attract pollinators, sink carbon and produce nutrient dense food.
Soil Born Farms, a nonprofit farm in Rancho Cordova, CA, grows 45 different vegetable crops and 9 different varieties of fruit on 55 acres. They work closely with the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, which distributes to their low-income clients throughout the county. Soil Born Farms raises chickens (meat and egg birds), sheep and hogs. Their products are also sold at a farm stand, farmers market, a CSA, direct to restaurants, and at the Sacramento Natural Food Coop. Their $5,000 will allow them to purchase a no-till seed drill, which will improve germination rates, decrease the amount of labor required to plant cover crop seed, increase water retention, control invasive weeds, improve the quality of successive vegetable crops, and increase pasture health.
Marsteller Farm, a family farm just under 4.5 acres in Freeland, MD, produces a wide variety of chemical-free vegetables from greens, garlic and cold weathers to corn, melons, and tomatoes specializing in different, lesser-known varieties and heirlooms. They also sell pastured eggs and heritage pastured pork raised using a rotational grazing system so that fresh grass and forage are available year-round. Their $5,000 grant will allow them to extend their growing season and diversify crops with the construction of a 30’x96’ high tunnel. They also aim to encourage home gardening and increase pollinators on the farm.
The Growing Club – Sarvodaya Farm, a nonprofit educational farming program in Pomona, CA, produces organically-grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, and pasture raised eggs on an acre that is made up of 3 suburban farm sites. Their CSA is currently supporting 25 low-income members. In addition, Farmer Trainees learn to manage the entire farm operation, including nursery planting, maintenance, field plantings, pest management, livestock care, and irrigation setup and maintenance. Their $4,996 grant will help establish four California Native perennial hedgerows. The funds will be used for the purchase of over 200 perennials, 40-50 fruit trees, wildflower seeds, and the drip irrigation materials for these plants. In addition, 10% of the grant funding will also be reserved for creating educational programming for the Farmer Training Program.
Blackhawk Courts Farm and Garden is a ½-acre community-led organic farm and community garden on the grounds of Rockford Housing Authority (RHA) Blackhawk Courts public housing property in Rockford, IL. The farm program engages youth and adult apprentices in educational programming and on-site markets. They sell produce grown on the farm through a 44-member, 10- and 5-week CSA, on- and off-site farm stands, and “We-Pick Wednesday” events, where community members are able to come to the farm and we pick their vegetable selections fresh. At the community garden, Blackhawk Court residents are able to pick produce at any time for free. Their $4,100 grant will allow them to carry out soil testing while creating compost, cover crops, and planting perennials to help improve soil health and attract and support pollinators.
Stay Tuned for Updates
The 2017 grantees will share updates on their projects in August and December.
A small donation has a huge impact on a sustainable small farm. Help us grow our reach by donating just a $1! Help support more projects that address water conservation, natural pest control, energy efficiency, soil health or pollination.