Applications are now open for local commercial farmers to seek assistance in expanding their operation and production of more organically-grown fruits and vegetables.
Salt Lake City launched the Local Food Microgrant Program in February 2017 in partnership with Urban Food Connections of Utah, the non-profit organization that runs the Downtown Farmers Market, Rio Grande Winter Market and Tuesday Harvest Market. The Salt Lake City Council, on the recommendation of the Administration and its Sustainability Department, in 2016 set apart $85,000 to initially fund the program.
The program offers funding to local farmers who want to expand their operations with sustainability in mind. The grants help farmers access technology, education, tools and equipment to grow more sustainable produce.
“Our goal is to increase the amount of healthy, locally-grown, organic food available in Salt Lake City,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “By providing small grants to farmers, we are also supporting local, ecologically sustainable agriculture and the City’s economy.”
The third funding round is now open and will award $15,000. The microgrant program has so far generated substantial interest among small-scale commercial farmers.
In 2017, the program was competitive with 48 applicants requesting a total of $329,076 in microgrant funding over the course of two grant cycles. To date the program has awarded $29,488.
“This program has been wildly successful,” said Alison Einerson of Urban Food Connections of Utah. “We received many more funding requests than we could fulfill. There is clearly a sizeable demand from our local farming community for more support. The sky’s the limit on how we can extend this program and continue transforming our local food system, and I look forward to working with Salt Lake City on that.”
The third round of the Local Food Microgrant Program will be accepting applications until February 16, 2018. For more information on the program, visit here.
Potential projects may include installation of sustainable farming techniques such as waterwise irrigation systems, increased produce storage capabilities and solar panels. The could also be used for building hoop houses or greenhouses to extend the growing season, purchasing organic seed, continuing education for farmers and sponsoring labor costs in the form of a summer farm apprenticeship.
The second round of grant recipients include:
Richard Wilkerson of Wilkerson Farm was awarded $3,302 to install a new water meter connection to provide clean, high-quality water to irrigate organic peach trees, irrigate an experimental garden area for testing new varieties, as well as wash and prepare harvested produce. This upgrade will increase the quality and variety of fruit brought to market during the summer and fall.
Amanda Theobald and Elliott Musgrove of Top Crops Urban Farm were awarded $2,582 to construct two new hoop houses that will protect half of Top Crop's beds as well as lengthen the growing season and increase the amount of produce grown. Estimates, based on their research, predict the area covered by high tunnels will see an increase of 30% in yearly yields.
Jared Hankins of Hand Sown Homegrown was awarded $4,550 to incorporate a greenhouse into their farming operations which will increase the quality, quantity, variety and efficiency of producing vegetable starts for transplanting out in the field. The greenhouse will lengthen the growing season and increase options for a wider variety of crops, especially lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.
Peter Rasmussen of Sandhill Farm was awarded $4,550 to purchase Caterpillar High Tunnels. The tunnels, in combination with additional wind and weather support, paired with carefully selected plantings will allow Sandhill to have year-round offerings of organic, fresh produce for years to come.
More information about first round awardees is available here.