- Travel costs to apprentice with an expert in a food specialty (cheesemaking, heirloom fruit growing, CSA operations, etc.)
- Purchase of seeds or equipment related to producing a new crop or breed of livestock or a food important to the cultural traditions of native or immigrant communities.
- Sustainable projects at a farm such as transition to certified naturally grown, organic, or biodynamic.
- Development of an urban garden as a community development or educational program.
Even though I’d written the post from Utah, I wasn’t successful speaking with Slow Food Utah about the criteria or the grant winners but that post did cause a spike in readership amongst our own local slow food aficionados. That blog love was exciting enough but the conversations that began unfolding from there are still running.
Community Food Connections is a non-profit with a mission it is to grow strong communities, healthy food, healthy families and healthy farms. They are working to improve access to healthy food in underserved areas by increasing local production and expanding sales outlets. Their programs create jobs, support micro-enterprise development and build family self-sufficiency.
They have a successful record including developing nutrition services at farmers markets statewide, a Farm to School Program and the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. They’ve also developed the resources to bring the federal WIC and Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program to Arizona, as well as wireless point of sale terminals that can process food stamps at open-air markets.
It’s enriched me to get to know these folks and learn about their crucial work but I was honored when they asked me to assist them in the development of a micro-lending program to nurture and support our local food community. Based upon a small IDA grant and administered through a local credit union, Community Food Connections will be making microloans to local entrepreneurs who are developing products and ideas for our community food landscape. This week, we’ll meet to create the first awards and I’m remarkably enthusiastic.
The notion of this award really cuts across several areas of interest for me. I love economic development work especially during a time when we’ve been hit so hard. Bringing resources to our local food economy is inspiring and the community development aspect holds a special place for me. Right now, I have no idea who the applicants are or who the loans will be awarded to but I can promise that I’m as excited now as they will be to find out that they’ve been selected. And this is just the first cycle.