We are thrilled to announce the awardees for the Biodiversity Micro-Grants! Thanks to your support and donations to Slow Food West Michigan, we are able to locally fund this awesome program.

Schuler Farms will be growing an heirloom variety of potato called Laratte French Fingerling. “This particular variety is rare and sought after by many chefs.” says the farmer, Bruce Schuler. Their farm is based on diversity, growing a wide array of different vegetables and varieties. These special spuds will be available through their Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) and at the Caledonia Farmers Market.

Earthkeeper Farm’s grant project is raising certified organic, heirloom transplants.  There are 34 different varieties of vegetables available. These unique types include, ‘Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry,’ ‘Moon and Stars Watermelon,’ and ‘Cherokee Purple Tomato.’ Many of the varieties are from Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, which is a list of foods specifically valued for their outstanding flavor and meaningful role they play in the food system. Plants are available for pre-order through the farm or at the Fulton Street Farmers Market.

Garfield Park Neighborhood Association exists to preserve and improve the unique human and physical characteristics of the neighborhood through resident involvement. The neighborhood encompasses an area of approximately five square miles in central Grand Rapids, Michigan.  GPNA serves 24,189 individuals according to the 2010 Census.  Within this population are 4,950 households of which 22% are below the national poverty level.  They are interested in providing space for people in the neighborhood to grow food. This Community Garden is being developed to achieve a primary goal of enhancing food security within for our constituent neighbors. They will make available 30 garden plots to neighbors for production of nutritional products using organic growing techniques.

They will grow sunflowers on a section in our Community Garden. These varieties include; Taramumera White Seeded, Titan Sunflower, and Russian White Seeded. These sunflower seeds they are planning to purchase from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.

They will also supply the community gardeners with a variety seeds to start off their garden plots for the 2015 growing season.  They will produce the following vegetable varieties; Rocket Arugula, Detroit Red Beet, Chioggia Organic Beet, Albino Beet, Scarlett Nantes Carrot, Oxheart Carrot, Organic Vates Collards, Speckled Organic Lettuce, Baquieu Organic Lettuce, Amish Organic Snap Pea, Champion of England Pea, Organic Bloomsdale Spinach, Philadelphia White Box Organic Radish, Holmes Royal Red Organic Radish, and Plum Purple Organic Radish, Calima bean and Golden Wax bean. All these seeds will be purchased from Seed Savers Exchange.

Our Kitchen Table (OKT) is focusing on growing and promoting more heirloom varieties of vegetables, particularly tomatoes, peppers, greens, cucumbers, beets, squash, garlic and certain herbs: basil, dill, cilantro and rosemary. OKT intends to use the seeds of these varieties for their urban Food Diversity Project, which includes growing food with 40 families in food- insecure neighborhoods, with vulnerable children at schools in food-insecure neighborhoods and in community garden spaces in food-insecure neighborhoods.

Hope Farms works with resettled refugee communities in Grand Rapids. They hope to increase the seed stock regionally for several vegetable varieties, as many seeds are shipped or brought over from their homelands. For this year they would like to include Garden Egg and Kittele (two types of small African Eggplant), Bitter Thai Eggplant, Red Noodle Bean, and a type of Nepali hot pepper called Dhalle, which simply means “round”. Each of these varieties will be grown in isolation at one of their sites in order to develop a local seed stock.

They will also add four new varieties to incorporate into their CSA. Those varieties include: Albino Beets, Oxheart Carrots, Red Noodle Beans and Hearts of Gold Melons. The Melon variety was developed in Michigan, so they look forward to carrying its legacy. Seeds sourced from Seed Saver Exchange.

Plainsong Farm is growing organic heirloom garlic with bulb seeds sourced from Seed Savers Exchange. Varieties will include: Bogatyr, Broadleaf Czech, Chesnok Red, Georgian Crystal, Georgian Fire, Inchelium Red, Music, Pskem River, and SamarKand.  Garlic has a special place in their family farming’s memory because it is the first kind of crop seed that they began saving for replant and biodiversity purposes.  Because garlic is such staple ingredient in many recipes providing heirloom garlic is a perfect way to raise awareness of food diversity and educating them on the ease of growing their own organic heirloom garlic.