This spring, NOFA-VT awarded our third round of Resilience Grants to fund projects that will improve long-term resilience on farms and in communities across Vermont.
We received 151 applications from farmers around the state and awarded 65 grants, totaling over $158,000. These grants were for up to $2,500 each. Twenty-five of the grants went to farm businesses that are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC)-led, LGBTQ farmer-led, and/or disabled farmer-led.
Some of the recurring themes for this year’s round of grants were infrastructure improvements, water and irrigation investments, soil health, biodiversity, and food access efforts. Other themes present in several awards included building a local economy through farm stands, reducing fossil-fuel use across farm systems, and education for the public. For the first time, collaborative applications (ranging from 2 to 7 farms in each set) sought communal resilience, supporting efforts beyond the nuclear farm family towards collective thinking.
This year, we have been excited to develop and learn from a participatory grantmaking process for these grant awards. This winter we convened a farmer and farmworker grant review committee to make the funding decisions. Our goal with this participatory, democratic participation model was to shift power away from the organization and into the hands of those we are in service to—and for those people to ultimately determine what projects had the biggest potential to bolster resilience on farms and in communities.
We’ve highlighted a few of the projects here to give you a sense of the range of projects that the review committee decided to fund:
The Farm Upstream, Jacqueline Huettenmoser, East Montpelier
This farm is a collective of four young farmers leasing three separate plots while facing land access barriers. They will use grant funds to build a mobile cold storage unit, which will expand the crops that they are able to grow while they search for a permanent home.
Does’ Leap, George van Vlaanderen, East Fairfield
Larson Farm and Creamery, Richard Larson, Wells
Maplemont, Amber Reed, Barnet
Meeting Place Pastures, Marc and Cheryl Cesario, Cornwall
Pigasus Meats, Phelan O'Connor, South Hero
Robinson Hill Beef, Graham Unangst-Rufenacht, Marshfield
SVTFarm, Laura Ann Burch, Wells
Two Worlds Farm, Diane Imrie, North Ferrisburgh
These seven member-farms of the Land Care Cooperative will use grant funds to cooperatively purchase and use the “Vermont Ripsower,” a subsoiler with a seeder and liquid applicator. The Ripsower interplants diverse, deep-rooted flowering mixes, decompacts soils, triggers and aids topsoil-formation processes, and applies farm-brewed biostimulants and minerals to seeds during planting. As a result, the tool will help build soil health, improve water quality and increase carbon sequestration potential.
Boreas Ventures, Malcolm Greene, Montpelier
This hemp and cannabis farm will use grant funds to test a variety of edible companion plants for their ability to reduce pest and blight pressure on hemp and cannabis crops while increasing pollinator-friendly plants.
Cloud Water Farm, Racheal Ouellette and Joseph Bossen, Warren
This farm will use grant funds to establish diverse varieties of basketry willow as strip crops lining fields of fruits and vegetables. The willows will create diversified income streams, meet the demand for local weaving willow supply, serve as riparian buffers, and provide wind protection.
Ishtar Collective, Henri June Bynx, Montpelier
This mutual aid project that produces food for free distribution in the community will use grant funds to purchase hand tools to increase volunteer capacity and a farm vehicle to widen their distribution range.
Naga Bakehouse, Julie Sperling, Middletown Springs
This farm will use grant funds to create a regional flour mill that will enable them to purchase grains from local farmers for their bakehouse.
Retreat Farm, Katie Paolizzi, Brattleboro
This farm will use grant funds to host a community dinner for the 200+ stakeholders of their Community Food Project, which makes local farm products available to all community members regardless of their financial means through its pay-what-you-can farmstand and sliding scale CSA. The dinner will allow stakeholders to deepen personal connections and engage in constructive dialogue to inform future programming decisions.
This year’s Resilience Grants were funded in part with donations to the NOFA-VT Resilience Fund as well as generous support from Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, Chelsey Ring Giving Fund, Justin Reidy and Meaghin Kennedy, People’s United a division of M&T Bank, Raven Ridge Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, Sustainable Future Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Community Foundation COVID-19 Fund, and WaterWheel Foundation.