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The FruitGuys Community Fund Provides Grants to Small Farms

Small independent family farms are critical to agricultural and economic diversity yet they are endangered, operating precariously at the mercy of the weather, market forces, land speculation, and regulation. One of the biggest hurdles faced by small farmers is access to capital. The FruitGuys Community Fund was founded in 2012 to provide small grants (up to $5,000) to small farms and agricultural nonprofits for sustainability projects that have a large positive impact on the environment, local food systems, and farm diversity.

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The FruitGuys Community Fund, a nonprofit, fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives, an organization that provides administrative and financial support to new nonprofits, was inspired by the work of The FruitGuys former Farm Steward Program. In 2013, the Community Fund’s first year of operation, $20,000 in grants were awarded to five farms and agricultural nonprofits in California and Pennsylvania. In 2014, nearly $30,000 went to eight farms in the midwest, west coast and east coast chosen from a pool of 60 applicants. In 2015, we recieved over 70 applications from all over the country and awarded $35,643 in grants to eight small farms in California, Maryland, Illinois, and New Jersey. 

Small family farms need our help to improve their environmental and economic sustainability. The FruitGuys Community Fund is unique in providing small grants that can have big impacts for farms. Please support our efforts to fund projects that help preserve America’s family farms.

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Meet the class of 2015! 

Our Alumni Grantees

2013 Class Updates

SAGE Ag-Park in Sunol, CA, received a $3,000 grant for plantings that attract and support pollinator insects. October 2014 update: “We completed planting in our 800 feet section of hedgerow along the front fencing of the Sunol Ag Park in 2013. This year, through our education programs and monthly work days, over 200 staff and volunteer hours have gone into maintenance and upkeep of the native plant hedgerow. Most notably, new plants have been introduced to encourage staggered blooming throughout the year, thereby providing food for beneficial insects through multiple seasons.” -Charlotte Hryse, Program and Admin Associate

New Family Farm in Sebastopol, CA, received a $3,500 grant to purchase a new manure spreader, to more efficiently fertilize the soil. August 2014 update: “We have used this manure spreader so many times I lost count. It has allowed us to use not only the horse manure produced on site, but the pig manure as well and any compost we make. We spread all our fields in the Spring and then again before any re-plant. This is a piece of equipment that fundamentally changed our operation and allows us to improve soil quality, tilth, water retention, and fertility. Thanks to The FruitGuys Community Fund for helping us get here!” -Ryan Power, Farmer

Red Heart Ranch in Finley, CA, received a $5,000 grant to install solar-powered irrigation and build a hoop house. May 2013 update: “Well, thanks to a grant from The FruitGuys Community Fund, we are going to be able to make huge improvements in our irrigation system. We are going “off-grid” and will be using 100% solar power to pump, store and irrigate everything we plant. We have a lot to do, what with putting in a pad for the water tank and getting everything plumbed, but it’s very exciting. We purchased the bulk of the system from Advance Power in Calpella – they know their stuff and their prices are cheaper than Amazon (or anyone else, near as I could tell).” December 2013: “The demand for water pumping coincides with the demand for air conditioning. Should there be brownouts this summer, and I suspect there will be, we will be able to irrigate independently with zero demand on the utility grid. The settling action of having a storage tank really helps with sediment, so we have cleaner water and much, much less trouble with clogged and fouled drip system components. We also have greater water pressure, so our ability to expand our drip system is enhanced.Thanks to the FruitGuys Community Fund, our ability to conserve and carefully distribute water is much improved.” -John Moorhead, Farmer

Snipes Family Farm & Education Center in Morrisville, PA, received a $5,000 grant to purchase fencing to add livestock onto their farm, helping to diversify the farm’s income and holdings. August 2014 update: “The expansion of our animal grazing on Snipes Farm has been a tremendous boon to everything we do! On any given day cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and turkeys can be moved throughout our pastureland and cover cropped, fallow fields. Having enough proper fencing and chargers has enabled us to be pro-active on a daily basis. We have reduced our fossilized fuel use as regards mowing certain fence line areas. The fertility of our vegetable fields and berry patches is improved as a result of animal grazing rotations. We give weekly tours to school children as well as adults and are very pleased to include our sustainable grazing rotations in the discussion and tour. The ability to expand this operation through financial help from the FruitGuys Community fund has been greatly appreciated!” -Susan Snipes, Farm Owner

Two Gander Farm in Downingtown, PA, received a $3,500 grant to expand their high tunnel, which will extend their growing season.
December 2013 update: “Our high tunnel has already allowed us to extend the harvest of our hardy greens far beyond those in the field unprotected. This fall, we have had single digit cold temperatures and an early snow cover that made the harvest of our field spinach impossible. December daytime temperatures have been cold enough that the field greens were either buried in the snow or the leaves were simply too frozen for harvest. We were able to instead harvest from the hoop house and fill our CSA orders with a variety of greens that were of the finest quality. Temperatures inside the hoop house at midday are high enough to work inside in just a light jacket, without the addition of a supplemental heat source. We have been able to grow turnips in the hoop house that are protected from the wind and snow and are retaining their finest quality. This has allowed us to harvest our field turnips that we would otherwise put into storage and distribute them to the Chester Co. food bank. Now that the hoop house is fully functional, we are going to be able to extend our winter marketing next season into the Philadelphia neighborhood that we serve in the summer. We are making plans to use our high tunnel for the production of summer crops, some of which we have had difficulty with disease over the past few years. The extra covered space that we now have will be put into specialty peppers that have been recently underperforming in the field.” -Trey Flemming, Farmer

2014 Class Updates

Clear Spring Farm in Easton, PA, received a $4,000 grant for six beehives and equipment. September 2014 update:“We have purchased our beehives and constructed them. We will not be able to put honeybees in the hive until spring and are anxious to start our project. Most of the equipment has been ordered and delivered to us, but some items are on back order and will be delivered soon. The honey bees will be ordered in October. The beehives were constructed near our high tunnel greenhouses, which hold strawberry plants, tomatoes, and peppers at this time. Thank you once again for allowing us to participate in this project.” - Terry Kromer, Farm Owner

Bountiful Hope Farms in Monroe, WI, received a $2,750 grant to install a drip irrigation system, hoop houses, and raised beds. September 2014 update: “The drip irrigation system funded by the FruitGuys Community Fund grant made it possible to expand and provide more produce to those in need. As of today, we have donated almost 7,000 pounds of produce to nine food pantries and one food bank...what makes this more remarkable is that we don't focus on the "heavy" vegetables, but instead donate as wide a variety as possible to ensure that everyone finds something they like among the donation packages we provide...We are also looking forward to extending the donation season with the hoop house and cold frames. We have 6 raised beds installed in the hoop house and 3 cold frames installed. Our goal is to grow cool weather crops to allow donations into the fall and even winter. We also have several rows of produce in the garden itself planted to cold weather crops, which we will cover with floating row cover to keep them growing even after the first frosts. It has been a tremendous and inspiring year.” - Melissa Burch, Founder and Project Manager                

Real Food Farm in Baltimore, MD, received a $5,000 grant for soil remediation, pollinator habitat installation, and seed cover crop. September 2014 update: “We're chugging away getting our Perlman Place site plowed, composted, and planted thanks to The FruitGuys Community Fund grant. We had intended on planting the berry plants in the fall, but we now realize that it'd be better to plant them in the spring of 2015 so we have better stock to select from.” —Shelley White, Program Coordinator 

Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living in Pembroke, IL, received a $3,570 grant for a 3-acre blueberry patch, beehives, compost system, bat boxes, cabbage moth screen netting system, and support for their urban farm education program. July 2014 update: “After battling several very high wind storms and rain like we have never had before. We have about twenty baby lowbush blueberry bushes our son found in a wooded area at the training center. We will transplant them -- after the harvest this fall. We got 15 Elliots and 15 Dukes, highbush blueberries we purchased that we are looking forward to planting. Thanks to The FruitGuys Community Fund grant for supporting our project! ” - Fred Carter, Founder

Woodleaf Farm in Oroville, CA, received a $2,252 grant to document the biological and economic sustainability of agro-ecosystem farming techniques. September 2014 update: “We have a unique nitrogen cycling and mineral balancing soil management system that works in a synergistic manner and mimics nutrient cycling in a natural forest system. This year, Woodleaf looked closely at the yield, fruit quality, leaf fertility, and soil health interaction. We performed fruit tissue analysis on 3 random samples of O’Henry peaches and took leaf tissue and soil samples from the same rows of O’Henry peach trees. Also in 2014, organic nitrogen was sampled in 5 fields. "Woodleaf’s fruit samples were compared to 3 random samples of O’Henry peaches from two other long-term, organic fruit farms, in northern California. In 2014, we recorded the highest yield in 34 years. Peaches, pears, and apples were not sprayed in 2014, yet insect and disease damage was very low.” - Helen Atthowe, Co-Owner                 

Friends of Great Kids Farm in Baltimore, MD, received a $5,000 grant to plant a nursery orchard of low-maintenance, schoolyard-growable fruit trees, brambles, vines, and shrubs in order to supply current and future school garden sites with stock for planting. October 2014 update:“Our farmer has designed the site with the support of a forest gardening consultant. The site will serve as a demonstration of low-maintenance fruit species appropriate for school yard cultivation, a source of fruit for classroom tastings, and a source of cuttings for propagating fruiting trees and shrubs for school yard gardens. We've created a planting list, created swales to capture rainwater as it flows down the orchard's slope, and staked out tree sites. We'll be planting over 80 trees over the next month.” - Chrissa Carlson, Executive Director                 

Lagier Ranches in Escalon, CA, received a $2,500 grant to install native pollinator hedgerows along the border of a newly planted 39-acre almond orchard. October 2014 update: “We have finalized our plant list, 37 varieties with a total of 354 plants! Our goal is to have something in bloom almost year round. We have sourced everything from one nursery, Intermountain Nursery, with whom we worked very closely on the varieties. We will have both larger shrubs and understory plants all native to our area. Our bed is ready and we are in the process of installing the double line drip system into our orchard and have added an extra row for the hedgerow. The drip tubing has emitters every 30”; we will offset the 2 tubes to get the most coverage for our plants. There will also be a valve where we can turn off the water to the hedgerow once it becomes established. I have sourced pounds of native wildflower seeds to broadcast after the first rain so that this spring there will be an added nectar source for the pollinators. We are planning on planting in the end of October; it should take us 2 days. It’s all very exciting! We are so grateful to the FruitGuys Community Fund for this opportunity!” - Casey Havre, Farmer

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