River Market Community Co-op created our first ever grant program, the Growers, Grazers, Makers & Bakers Grant to continue our progress toward our ends statement: cultivating a healthy community through equitable economic relationships; positive environmental impacts and inclusive, socially responsible business practices. Funds for the grant program are generated by customers ‘rounding up’ their purchases to the nearest dollar and were matched by River Market. All funds are devoted to farmers, producers, and processors to address specific needs. Eligible applicants include local farmers, producers, and processors that have been established in their current business for at least twelve months prior to applying. Funds may be used for the purchase of machinery, construction, supplies, infrastructure development, services or other resources necessary for increasing productivity or growing the applicant's business. The program started in October 2022 and we were able to fund three grants in this first year. We visited each of the grant recipients to learn more about their farms and projects, and to connect with these members of our community. We are a small food cooperative passionate about serving our community. It has been incredibly rewarding to assist these farmers as they toil to provide local food.
The grant program is funded by shoppers rounding up their purchases to the nearest dollar, and those funds were matched by River Market Community Co-op.
The objective of this grant program is to provide financial support for specific projects undertaken by farmers and producers in our community. As a community-owned grocery store, we feel it is vital to be a catalyst for small, local companies producing food in the area. We have deep roots in the community, and a history of supporting small farmers and small producers. Our members support this, demonstrated by their willingness to donate their money toward this cause.
We received 28 applications in the first year of the program, and were able to fully fund three of those projects. All three recipients were farms, and we visited each of them to learn about their project, document and photograph their progress, and most importantly to connect deeper with these members of our community. All three projects are underway, and already having a positive impact on the output of these small farms. They showed us how the projects funded decrease labor and increase yield through equipment and methods they can continue to use in the future. After visiting, we create assets to let our community know the positive impacts this grant program is having. The reception to this has been extremely encouraging. Shoppers express strong interest in continuing to fund the grant program; local producers are interested in applying for a grant in the coming year; and the recipients of the three grants are grateful for the positive impacts on their operation. All three of our grant recipients are part of a younger generation of small-scale farmers. One of the farms is located on the land of a manufactured housing community, and many of the people living in the community benefit from free food distributed from the farm.
"This last year, River Market started the Growers, Grazers, Makers and Bakers (GGMB) Producer Grant Program. The funds collected during one month of round ups was matched by River Market to fund capital projects for local producers who are actively participating in a more sustainable food system. With over 20 applications, $6,965 dollars were awarded to three farm operations. Cimmaron Community Farm, Strong Heart Farms, and Foxtail Farm were our inaugural recipients and all three of their projects were focused on human scale, soil health initiatives. These are the sorts of impacts our community-owned grocery store strives to make, and the results of everyone in the community working together toward a common, shared vision." Sara Morrison, General Manager
"This grant has allowed us to purchase tarps to suppress weeds. The amount of time saved weeding has been incredible, and allowed us to grow food far more efficiently. We are grateful to have been the recipients of these funds."