Once each year at the end of January, an amazing economic development activity erupts in Utah. Founded by actor, Robert Redford, the Sundance Film Festival is an incredible combination of art and tourism. I’ve been coming here for at least nine years to indulge in the creativity of independent screenwriters, actors, directors and producers. So far this year, I’ve seen a handful of good films, a couple that didn’t meet my expectations and my next day is planned with a few more.
I’ve also stumbled across a much much smaller, grass roots economic development activity within the food space. Slow Food Utah has a micro-grant program designed to fill the gap in traditional funding sources for local food-related projects.
Once each year, Slow Food Utah holds an event called the Feast of Five Senses. I’ve recently become familiar with the five senses concept via another great blog from In My Box. The Feast of Five Senses is held as a fundraiser and the net proceeds are designated for Slow Food Utah’s micro-grant program.
So, how does the micro-grant program work?
The program is open to any individual, small business, or non-profit committed to the Slow Food International principles of good, clean, fair food, cultural diversity, and convivality. Slow Food Utah gives high priorities to projects that help increase or enhance local skills and capacity, the availability of locally produced foods, regional and cultural food traditions, and taste or youth education.
I’m immediately attracted to their concept and my mind is spinning with ideas that might’ve passed muster in this annual competition for grants. Ajo Cooks? Crockpot Camp? Ten Recipes? A Community Garden?
Here are a couple of examples from Slow Food Utah gives:
- Funding to cover travel costs to attend a special conference about sustainable agriculture that relates directly to your business, teaching, or education (e.g. Eco-Farm http://eco-farm.org/index.php/efc, American Grassfed Association http://www.americangrassfed.org/).
- Funding to cover travel costs to apprentice with an expert in your food specialty (cheesemaking, heirloom fruit or vegetable growing, baking, market farming, CSA operations, etc.)
- Funding to purchase seeds and equipment related to producing a new crop or breed of livestock, especially if it is on the Ark of Taste, part of a Presidia, on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Priority List http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/wtchlist.html, open-pollinated/heirloom, a food important to the cultural traditions of native or immigrant communities in Utah, or otherwise a local food crop or tradition at risk.
- Funding to address a sustainable projects at a farm or operation such as energy efficiency, transition to certified naturally grown, organic, or biodynamic (including initial certification costs) or invest in equipment that will enhance your direct-market opportunities.
- Funding to help develop an urban garden or micro-farm as a community development or educational program.
I’m certain that I possess a certain degree of unrealistic romanticism but I love the concept of holding a fundraiser and then creating a grant program from the proceeds.
And if the grant program assists in the development of the local food movement, what could be better?