MINI-GRANTS FOR FARMERS FIGHTING HUNGER IN THEIR COMMUNITIES
One of the many things we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is how vulnerable our regional food supply chain is. All across the nation, as well as right here in our Chesapeake region communities, we saw empty grocery shelves, ag producers losing their wholesale revenues, closed restaurants, and the shut-down of some farmers markets. The result? Consumers and local food banks and pantries turned to farmers more than ever in search of healthy and nutritious food.
Future Harvest recognizes the incredibly important role that our farmers play when times are good, and especially now, when times are rough. Whether they are in the cities, the suburbs, or rural areas, our farmers are resilient. They arose and continue to rise to the occasion to feed and sustain the region with fresh, healthy, and local food. They are our second line of defense; they are the heroes and sheroes we champion. So we jumped into action.
The Future Harvest “Feed the Need” Fund was created to help farmers weather market changes caused by the pandemic and provide food access in a variety of ways. We raised funds to provide cash mini-grants to farmers, ranging from $2,250-$2,500, to help them address food access in our communities. From activities like sliding scales on CSA orders and home deliveries to providing produce to local food banks and pantries, grant award recipients had the flexibility to participate in this effort using the tools and means that work best for them to help others.
Help us continue this initiative by donating to the Future Harvest Feed the Need Fund. Tell your friends and families. Let them know that they can support a regional food economy by ensuring that our farmers have the resources necessary to meet the increased demands for fresh, healthy local food and to help reduce hunger in our communities.
Feed the Need Grant Recipients
Future Harvest is pleased to announce its 22 grant awardees from the Feed the Need Fund which raised more than $40,000 for the farming community in the Chesapeake region to address food access in our communities. We are also proud to have selected 14 Black, Indigenous, and other farmers of color out of the 22 grantees, as part of our commitment to racial equity. A review committee composed of Future Harvest Board members, staff, and farmers selected this first round of grant awardees from a pool of 102 applicants with funding requests totalling more than $300,000.
When the pandemic hit, food service and distribution changed quickly. Restaurants closed, cancelling regular wholesale orders with local farmers. Area farmers markets shut down while everyone worked to pivot to online sales platforms, pre-packaging, and delivery. All the while, food banks were experiencing shortages nationwide and a wave of newly unemployed and struggling Americans – who ventured out for one thing: food – were met with empty shelves.
The Feed the Need Fund was created to help farmers weather market changes caused by the pandemic and provide food access in a variety of ways. Thanks to individual donors, funds awarded from the Mid-Atlantic Food Resilience & Access Coalition and the Greater Washington Community Foundation, and region-wide partner support, grantees will receive mini-grants ranging from $500 – $3,000. With these funds, grantees will provide such activities as sliding scales on CSA orders, conduct home deliveries, and donating produce to local food banks and pantries in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC.
“We are so excited to be able to support our farming community with some financial assistance, as they adjust to the new normal of doing business during the pandemic,” said Dena Leibman, Future Harvest executive Director. “Through this effort, we were also able to address food scarcity in our communities while facilitating and strengthening relationships between our local producers and our local food banks and other organizations serving families. This is a win-win for everyone. It is our hope, however, to be able to continue to meet the growing needs of our farmers, by obtaining additional funds to award more mini-grants to our other applicants whose projects would benefit so many individuals and families in need.”
Benjamin Ballard of B & J Farm Produce in Princess Anne, MD
Project: Provide a delivery of fresh vegetables and eggs to Mount Olive Church, Perryhawkin Church and MVW Church in Somerset County and Wicomico County, and deliver produce to Seaton Center.
Breon Clemons of GoGreen Farms LLC in Portsmouth, VA
Project: Provide home deliveries to her local community and to the Southeastern Food Bank of Virginia which serves the entire Southampton Roads region.
Thelonius Cook of Mighty Thundercloud Edible Forest in Hampton, VA
Project: Deliver $100 worth of produce per week, now through New Year’s, to Jeanna’s iFeed nonprofit organization, which provides hot meals, as well as other items, to 100 families in need each week in the Hampton Roads area.
Amy Drewry of Drewry Farms in Wakefield, VA
Project: Provide subsidized pricing and delivery of packages of berries, pork, beef and eggs to the senior citizens, laid-off, shut-ins and disabled citizens of Surry County, distributed through faith-based organizations, the Surry County Social Services board, and through private recommendations.
Jennifer Gilkerson of Sunset Berry Farm & Produce LLC in Alderson, WV
Project: Deliver to low-income and elderly folks in Greenbrier, Summers, Monroe and Raleigh counties. She will specifically target low-income apartment housing for seniors and impoverished members of these communities, as well as food banks.
Patrick Johnson of NANIH Farm and Garden in Mechanicsville, VA
Project: Distribute up to 50 lbs. of food per week beginning in August to the Richmond Food Bank’s Feed More program and advertise on his website with a link for hunger assistance to reach his target goal of up 50 lbs. of food distributed per week.
Violet King of Cosmic Roots Farm in Brandywine, MD
Project: Provide affordable eggs, meat and herbal products to African American families in Wards 7 and 8 in DC and in Southern MD by scaling operations, improving her food handling and general food safety procedures, while providing affordable food to families in need.
Gwen Kokes of Civic Works Real Food Farm in Baltimore, MD
Project: Continue to deliver a variety of local produce to at least 120 older adults each week from August through December 2020. Each box of produce, which we are calling the Affordable Produce Program, will have $15 worth of local fruits and vegetables but will cost the customer just $5.
Melody Muhammad of Symond Gardens in Claymont, DE
Project: Provide different vegetables and their nutritional value, partner with the local colleges and farmers for fruits in season to provide fresh food locally, especially during this time of the pandemic.
Natalie McGill of Perennial Roots Farm in Accomac, VA
Project: Expand her new door-to-door delivery CSA, that supplies 50+ families, expand participation with the local Food Bank and with Manna Cafe, which delivers door-to-door and tries to feed 300+ families a week, and continue donating to the Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Refuge House in Onancock.
Lee O’Neill of Radical Roots Farm in Keezletown, VA
Project: Continue to donate CSA shares to the Harrisonburg City Schools’ Curbside Meal program, where 70% of students in this school system receive free or reduced lunch.
Katy Orr-Dove of Orrs Farm Market in Martinsburg, WV
Project: Provide an assortment of fruits and vegetables to her local C-CAP, Loaves and Fishes, in Martinsburg, WV where they could be distributed to families in need.
Floyd Pugh of Pugh Farms in Westover, MD
Project: Provide beef and goat for the next few months to supply his market and contribute to “Save the Youth,” a local church food pantry serving an ethnic community.
Peter Scott of Fields 4 Valor Farms in Washington, DC
Project: Increase his weekly shares for 30 veteran households who were already suffering from food insecurity, homelessness, permanent combat injury, and financial instability. We are doing this in cooperation with Freedom Place, Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, Bethesda Cares, Serving Together, and student volunteers from the Uniformed Services University. Our production goals are to provide each household over $1200 of fresh food over a 26 weeks harvest season and deliver it to their homes.
Reignbeaux Vargas of Sovereign Earth Works in Washington, DC
Project: Start a small scale CSA for QTBIPOC individuals in the Greater Washington, DC area, pay QTBIPOC individuals to work on the farm, start no-contact home deliveries throughout the Greater Washington, DC area, and help start up their seed saving operation where we will be using 20% of our farm to provide seeds that are Native/Indigenous/Black heirloom varieties.
Matthew WIlliams of Conscious Connections Inc. in Wilmington, DE
Project: Purchase an electric motorized mountain bike to expand its farm to consumer model to reach a broader audience that includes 2 local senior centers and a group home, and expand home delivery service from a two-block radius, serving 15 – 20 families to a 15-block radius with the potential to serve at least 200 families.
Liz Whitehurst of Owl’s Nest Farm in Upper Marlboro, MD
Project: Donate 5 CSA shares to the Richardson Dwellings public housing complex each week through October 2020, and their partners at Beet Street Gardens will help deliver and distribute the produce to families who have been involved in their community garden program.
Olabisi Yamu of Heritage Farm in Bowie, MD
Project: Plant African vegetables and distribute them freely to individual senior citizens in her neighborhood and in her church.
2020 Feed the Need Partners
2020 Feed the Need Report
We must support them now as they feed our communities! Read our 2020 Feed the Need Report to learn about the 22 grantees and projects the campaign funded so far.