What Goes Around is Coming Around!

Oh, the irony! And the fun! In January I shared information about a micro grant program created by Slow Food Utah. I loved the descriptions of the types of projects they were looking to fund – those that would fill a void in the local food landscape, such as:

  • 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.

Stay tuned!


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64 Comments

  1. I am so wowed! This is certainly good news and so exciting! Congratulations on being a part of it all . . .a catalyst . . .and I can’t wait to hear more! :)

    Reply
  2. You need to come here and spread the word in South Africa, Tammy!

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  3. Wonderful result and very exciting indeed! Hope all goes well, Tammy!

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  4. what a great idea! micro loans aren’t just for developing nations! our local market takes WIC, and we’ve got a budding urban gardening program that brings me much joy…

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  5. This is great cause especially during such hard economic times. We have some challenges of our own here in Australian with the recent floods in Queensland but thankfully our economy is holding strong and unemployment is really at its all time low.

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  6. The Phoenix Public Market is a vibrant showcase of local agricultural, gardening, culinary, and crafting talent. Many items there are organic and/or vegan, and everything is locally sourced. Though the market stalls are only erected on Saturday mornings, a nice selection of the various food items can be found in the brick-and-mortar market right next door, which is open seven days. Also of note is that the Valley Permaculture Alliance (once known as Phoenix Permaculture Guild) has a stall in the market each Saturday and holds classes in the building next door. The sense of community here is amazing, and the whole scene is a huge breath of fresh air in the middle of what is otherwise a blazing hot concrete dustbowl.

    People need to know that there is an alternative to the petroleum-intensive monocropping and grocery store distribution center food system model to which most of our society has become accustomed. Growing food organically and distributing it locally in season is best for our health (both as individuals and as a society) and for the health of the planet. Applause to the individuals and organizations that help enable this shift.

    Reply
    • There are some amazing people behind it Rob. They are tireless servants and really their outcome is fabulous. The market is now also open on Wednesdays and we have Food Truck Friday. The Permaculture Alliance is working to distribute free trees to those who will take a class on proper planting techniques and put it somewhere that it will help with shade.

      Reply
  7. Lisa H

     /  August 30, 2011

    Wow, that is really exciting! You are truly making a difference. Thank you so much for all your hard work and spreading the word about being local.

    Reply
  8. Sally Mom

     /  August 30, 2011

    Tammy, what is inspiring to me as well as your wonderful blog, is that everywhere I go now, I can find a local Farmers Market, and CSA availability. Washington and Oregon and even Sitka, Alaska!
    Providing loans! I am so enthused and excited. Please keep us informed and Congratulations on another great endeavor!

    Reply
    • Tammy

       /  August 30, 2011

      It is exciting Sally. This is a way to kick-start some enterprises and provide help.

      Reply
  9. This is wonderful news, Tammy! Congratulations! You are amazing!

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    • Tammy

       /  August 30, 2011

      I really haven’t done anything. There are others who work tirelessly on behalf of this cause.

      Reply
  10. Thank you for sharing this, Tammy. There are so many positive possibilities in this world! Today at lunch I ate food almost solely from the garden (except for hoison sauce and shoyu and rice). Love this time of year…

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    • Tammy

       /  August 30, 2011

      Good for you Kathy. Where I live planting season is just beginning.

      Reply
  11. Awesome news, Tammy! Have fun selecting the recipients! :D

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    • Tammy

       /  August 30, 2011

      Thanks Nancy. I’m hoping they’ll let me share their stories.

      Reply
  12. Great news and a tremendous example, Tammy. On a much smaller scale, where my road meets the main road, some industrious person build an attractive little veggie stand with a cash box. Each day there’s a variety of offerings. We would not have seen that a few years ago – or someone would have complained about it.

    Also, our largest hotel has an organic garden so they can serve fresh produce in the dining room. It’s been so successful that they are planning to sell what they can to the public next year. Yeay!!

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  13. That looks like a great project! I wish you the utmost success with it!

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  14. It’s great that so much detail and consideration has gone into the grant options – even travel costs being discussed as important!

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  15. That’s great news, Tammy, congrats on being a part of all this. Can’t wait to read more about it :)

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  16. I’m thrilled to read about this, Tammy. This is so similar to the work being done in Nashville by our Community Food Advocates. Micro-loans and mini-grants do make BIG difference. It is gratifying learn that these good things are happening around the country.

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  17. What exciting news! I love how these initiatives are taking a multi-faceted approach to community development through food. I look forward to hearing more about this as you work on it!

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  18. How exciting!! congrats a wonderful venture!! a whole lime in the vitamix, amazing….hubby recently gifted me a vitamix..I have not had a chance to use it, because I am waiting for my older blender to go out…man I need to bust that baby out, how perfect for my margarita post!!
    have a great week!

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  19. This is great news Tammy and I am so proud of you. It’s time we brought about change, one person at a time. I think you should come here in India and spread the word too. Will love to hear more…

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  20. Congratulations on helping to initiate this program. With all the people struggling now, I can’t think of a better time for something like this to be made available!

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    • It is exciting, isn’t it? I’m looking forward to getting going – if only at a very small level.

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  21. I LOVE this! Combining slow-food movement AND microloans – brilliant – like you! Thanks for sharing – this is great! I’m so amazed by you – way to go, Tammy!!!

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  22. Congratulations at helping to start such a wonderful thing!

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  23. Wow, that’s so great and exciting! I know the formication of being given the chance to do something you’re really enthusiastic about! It’s so great. And I love how you engage in these things – good to know there are people like you who do, it’s so important to finally get food production off the big-industry track!

    Reply
  24. Toby Simmons

     /  September 3, 2011

    Very interesting! Good blog!
    Let me know what you think of mine . . .
    http://apieceofcoffee.wordpress.com/
    Keep on posting!

    Reply
  25. Jane Ward

     /  September 4, 2011

    Can’t wait to see how this develops!

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  26. Oh wow, what awesome news Tammy! I can feel your excitement…and so well placed. Well done to you & the others & all the best to the contenders!

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  27. How wonderful and I am excited for you! This sounds like such a wonderful and extremely helpful project to be involved with. Keep us up dated on how it all turns out! Good luck in your work with this! blessings,Kathleen

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  28. Well done!

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  29. oops mom i was on yur account i like your pictures

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  30. How exciting !! And congratulations on being part of the program…can’t wait to read more updates. I remember reading an article in GOOD Magazine a few years back about the “slow food movement” and just thinking…wow, what a paradox, that progress means taking two steps back, reinventing our past rather than running in the opposite direction.

    -b

    Reply
    • Thanks. I’ll let you know how it goes. Yes, progress in food means taking a few steps back. That’s why I enjoy it so much.

      Reply
  31. You are amazing…well done!

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

    Reply

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