The nonprofit FruitGuys Community Fund announced 15 farms from 12 different states were selected to receive nearly $54,000 in grants for environmental sustainability projects ranging from installing beehives and bat boxes to converting a tractor to electric to vermicomposting.
The 2019 grantees were selected from 318 farms—a record number of applicants—which supplied letters of intent describing their proposed projects. The volunteer grant review committee narrowed it down to 21 finalists using the criteria laid out in the Community Fund’s farming manifesto. After much deliberation, the following 15 farms and agricultural nonprofits were chosen, representing 12 different states, making 2019 our largest and most geographically diverse class ever. These 15 grantees will receive a total of $53,479.74 in funding, thanks in part to the Fund’s generous supporters.
“Small farmers are masters at making every dollar count. By providing farms like these with grants, we’re able to make big impacts on communities throughout the United States,” said Chris Mittelstaedt, project director for The FruitGuys Community Fund and founder & CEO of The FruitGuys. “If you’d like to join the FruitGuys in supporting small farms, please consider donating to the Community Fund.”
Since 2012, The FruitGuys Community Fund has awarded 70 grants totaling more than a quarter of a million dollars.
In its seventh year of grant giving, the fund continues to provide small grants (up to $5,000) to small farms and agricultural nonprofits for sustainability projects that have large positive impacts on the environment, local food systems, and farm diversity. You can read the stories of past grantees here.
The Class of 2019 Grantees
Wilderness Greenhouse, a 1-acre farm near Homer, AK, produces tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh salsas, edible hanging baskets, and other seasonalvegetables. They strive to increase local food production because their remote, rural community sometimes faces limited access to fresh produce. Their $2,136 will allow them to expand their water catchment system, purchase cover crop seeds, set up a vermicomposting system, and transition to Korean natural farming methods. These changes will help improve their soil health and conserve water as they expand their operations.
Robina’s Organics, a 1-acre farm in Salinas, CA, practices an agroecological model of farming that produces mixed vegetables and specialty Asian greens and herbs. They also host a four-month, university student training that focuses on climate change and agriculture. Their $4,500 grant will allow them to install a greenhouse and further invest in natural pest control and pollinator habitation. These projects will help Robina’s produce more food and allow students to experience working with a longer growing season.
Fresh Roots Farm
Fresh Roots Farm, a 5-acre farm in Polson, MT, produces certified organic vegetables, fruits, and seeds. They received a $3,725 grant that will allow them to convert their Allis Chalmers G tractor to 48v electric. As they already have a solar array, this project will significantly reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and allow the farm to operate more ecologically.
Sankofa Farms, a 2-acre farm in Cedar Grove, NC, produces vegetables, chicken, quail, and duck eggs, and seeks to create a sustainable food source for those in both rural and urban parts of North Carolina. They also run a year-long agricultural program targeting at-risk black males in Durham/Orange County, NC, that focuses on regenerative agriculture, discipline, and communal responsibility. Their $2,900 grant will allow them to increase their honey bee production and purchase a caterpillar tunnel and low tunnel supplies, which will be used in both their educational programs and to help provide additional food to local communities.
Scott Farm is a 40-acre farm in Dummerston, VT, that began cultivating in 1791. They grow heirloom fruit (mostly apples), which they sell at their farm market and to wholesale co-ops, markets, and distributors, including The FruitGuys! Scott Farm has been working toward transitioning from rented honeybee hives to native bees. They received a $2,211.54 grant that will allow them to create six bee hotels and add pollinator plantings to their orchard. Their hope is that these new additions will also help educate the public about pollinator importance. They plan to feature their projects on educational tours during the 2019 Vermont Farm Days.
Many Forks Farm
Many Forks Farm is a 7.5-acre farm in Massachusetts that produces vegetables, herbs, flowers, mushrooms, ginger, and berries, which are distributed through a CSA, farmers markets, Friendship Center Food Pantry, and the Berkshire Food Project free-lunch program. In recent years they’ve faced drainage problems in some of their fields due to changing weather patterns. Their $4,070 grant will allow them to create swales and berms planted with native perennials to improve drainage and provide habitat for beneficial insects. These techniques will be showcased during visits from local schools, aspiring farmers, and the general public.
SweetRoot Farm is a 3-acre farm in Hamilton, MT, that produces eggs along with a wide range of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and berries. They received a $2,288 grant that will allow them to purchase cover crop seeds and sprinklers, which will improve their soil health and provide food and habitat for beneficial insects. Including gardens in cover crops will also provide a conversation starter to help educate customers and visitors about sustainable farming techniques.
Windswept Acres, a veteran-owned 3-acre farm in Chino Valley, AZ, grows and pickles a variety of vegetables, which they sell at farmers markets. Their $4,885 grant will allow them to complete two hoop houses to extend their growing season, plant pollinator-friendly perennials, and add beehives. Season extension will provide more produce for farmers markets, as well as donations to local organizations, such as Cornucopia, The American Legion, the Paulden Food Bank, and the Squash Patch Farms Ministry food-connect program.
JSM Organics, a minority-owned, 60-acre farm in Aromas, CA, grows organic vegetables, cut flowers, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. They received a $5,000 grant that will allow them to purchase a beneficial seed mix, pyro-weeder, beekeeping equipment, a quick-cut greens harvester, and a low-energy greens dryer. These purchases provide greater efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint. They will continue providing greens to the Fresh Approach/Freshest Cargo Mobile Market, which provides the low-income residents of East Palo Alto with affordable, organic produce on a weekly basis.
Huidekoper Ranch is a 1-acre farm in Wilson, WY, that produces organic salad greens, tomatoes, root vegetables, and microgreens. Their $3,400 grant will allow them to purchase two gothic-style caterpillar tunnels to help extend their growing season, increase food production, and add cover crops into the rotation to increase soil health. As the only farm growing vegetables commercially in the soil of Teton County, WY, they hope that their success will show others that high-elevation farming is possible and can help create a more sustainable community.
Sisterland Farms, a 2-acre, woman-owned and trans person–operated farm in Port Angeles, WA, produces fruit, vegetables, and flowers, which they sell through a CSA and farmers markets. They received a $3,541 grant that will allow them to plant cover crops, start a community compost program, install rain barrels, create perennial hedgerows, and grow a food forest. These upgrades will help Sisterland improve their soil health, conserve water, and produce more food, allowing them to open their CSA to more families.
DoLittle Pastures, a 15-acre farm in Lacomb, OR, produces pastured meat and poultry, as well as woodland food and herbal products. Their $3,700 will allow them to purchase seeds, fruit trees, compost, and other supplies that will help them create a sustainable food forest, as they strive to provide affordable, nutritious food for their community. The forest will also function as a key component of their monthly potluck and herbalism gathering for women and children.
Funks Grove Heritage Farm
Funks Grove Heritage Farm is a 9-acre farm in McLean, IL, that produces small grains and fruit, while fostering a community grounded in compassion, innovation, and education. They received a $2,527 grant that will allow them to create habitats for beneficial insects and animals by installing 10 bee boxes, four bat boxes, two owl boxes, and two large plots of pollinator plantings. Encouraging beneficial insects and animals to visit their farm will help decrease pest pressure and enhance crop pollination. These additions will highlight the ecological importance of insects and animals and will be featured in future educational programming.
La Semilla Community Farm
La Semilla Community Farm, a certified bee-friendly, nonprofit, 7-acre farm in Anthony, NM, produces vegetables, herbs, and honey. Their $4,196 grant will allow them to purchase trees and plants for a native vegetation buffer and windbreak. This buffer will help protect their gardens from wind erosion and pesticide drift from neighboring farms, while providing habitat for beneficial animals and insects. La Semilla also hosts numerous school visits, and the buffer will be featured as a new component in their educational programming.
Veteran’s Employment Base Camp
Veteran’s Employment Base Camp (VEBCOG) is a nonprofit organization designed to reintroduce unemployed, disabled, and homeless veterans back into the workforce as productive, employable individuals. Located in New Bern, NC, VEBCOG uses horticulture therapy to help rehabilitate veterans and grow organic fruits and vegetables to sell at farmers markets and distribute to disabled veterans. They received a $4,400 grant that will allow them to purchase two Slovenian beehives, which are more accessible to disabled beekeepers. The hives will be included in future farm tours to help encourage others to take up urban beekeeping.
If you’d like to keep up with these farms throughout the year, be sure to sign up for The FruitGuys Community Fund newsletter. And please consider supporting small American farms by making a donation today to FruitGuys Community Fund. 100% of your donation goes to deserving farms like the grantees of 2019.