In 2018– the sixth year of awarding small grants with big impacts to American farms and agricultural nonprofits– The FruitGuys Community Fund announced its largest class of grantees so far: 13 recipients of environmental sustainability grants in 11 states, for a total of $47,534.
After receiving a record 130 applications, the Fund’s volunteer review committee chose 20 finalists whose projects and values best aligned with its guidelines for sustainable farming practices. Thirteen of those finalists were awarded grants of up to $5,000 for projects such as solar power systems, beehives, beneficial insect habitats, growing season extensions, and unique composting systems. The grantees are located in California (2), Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin (2). Some of the farms are traditional family farms; others train aspiring female farmers, help settle refugees, and grow produce on city rooftops.
“We are excited to be able to fund more farms each year,” says Chris Mittelstaedt, The FruitGuys Community Fund Project Director and founder and CEO of The FruitGuys. “We started this fund in 2013 because we believe that small, independent American farms are a core element of a healthy food system, a diverse economy, robust communities, and a strong democracy.”
Casey McAuliffe, a farmer at Moon Dog Farms in Santa Fe, TX, posted this note on Instagram upon hearing their project was selected for a grant this year:
“Holy smokes, our grant proposal was accepted by The FruitGuys Community Fund!! We’ll receive $$ to purchase 3 caterpillar tunnels, shade cloths & silage tarps! Thank you so much, Fruit Guys!! #moondogfarms #feelinggood”
Volunteers from across the country brought broad perspectives on farm sustainability to the grant review process. Jennifer Breckner, a volunteer grant reviewer from Chicago, IL, says:
“I was psyched to be part of this grant selection process for The FruitGuys Community Fund that supports ‘small farms’ who make ‘big impacts.’ There are so many different farms—urban, suburban, rural, for-profit, nonprofit—committed to providing fresh, locally sourced food for their communities with really innovative projects that we wished we could fund them all. Thanks to The FruitGuys for letting me flex my nonprofit admin skills.”
The Class of 2018 Grantees are:
Namu Farm/Choi and Daughters Produce of Winters, CA. Their $3,794 grant will allow them to preserve and improve heritage varieties of Asian vegetable crops by funding a new hoop house, nursery benches, screens of multiple sizes, shade cloth, and tools for the hand-processing of seeds.
The Ohio City Farm by The Refugee Response is a six-acre agricultural nonprofit serving newly arrived refugees in Cleveland, OH. Their $2,780 grant will allow them to purchase two new walking tractor attachments.
Radical Roots Farm in Canterbury, CT. Their $4,500 grant will develop a composting system using black soldier flies, which consume organic waste and can then be made into supplemental feed high in protein and fat for their livestock.
Root Mass Farm of Oley, PA. Their $3,986 grant will allow them to build a high tunnel and plant 32 fig trees.
Hope Mountain Farm of Leavenworth, WA. Their $5,000 grant will allow them to transition to no-till production, thereby improving soil health and minimizing water runoff.
Cattail Organics in Athens, WI, will use their $5,000 grant to create beneficial insect habitat by implementing a unique approach to reducing soil disturbance.
Moon Dog Farms in Santa Fe, TX. Their $5,000 grant will fund three caterpillar tunnel kits, shade cloths, and a silage tarp to extend the growing season, protect crops, and improve soil health. They will also host workshops on how this system can create protected microclimates for growing in the Texas Gulf Coast region.
The Roof Crop LLC, an urban farm that grows produce atop 30,000 square feet of rooftops in Chicago, IL, will use their $1,950 grant to add three beehives to their flagship farm and amplify their sustainability and educational practices.
Doce Lume Farm in Frederick, MD, will use their $1,705 grant to build a low tunnel to extend their growing season, as well as establish a compost system to share with their Beginning Farmer Training Program network.
Fly Girl Farm, a four-acre farm in Pescadero, CA, gives aspiring female farmers the opportunity to experience running a small farm. Their $4,856 grant will fund a solar system to power their farm.
47 Daisies in Vassalboro, ME, will use their $2,500 grant to plant an orchard of peach, pear, and plum trees, as well as native wildflowers to support pollinators and to install bat and bluebird boxes for natural pest control.
Christensen’s Farm in Browntown, WI, will use their $1,463 grant to increase their number of beehives to eight, one of which will be an observation hive for local 4-H, school, and community groups.
Get to know some of the farms by watching their videos.
The FruitGuys Community Fund is a nonprofit, fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives whose goal is to support small farms’ efforts to promote greater environmental and economic health, community engagement, and advocacy that supports sustainable agriculture. Founded in 2012, the Fund is unique in its “small farms, big impacts” approach. These grants help farms enhance pollinator habitats, conserve water, increase soil health, extend growing seasons, and increase productivity.
Sheila Cassani is The FruitGuys GoodWorks Ambassador.