Taking on a new project for a small farm can be risky. We hope to provide funding to small-scale local farmers that will support the cultivation of heirloom varieties and/or heritage breeds. The program encourages farmers to explore more niche product offerings, as many heirloom and heritage breeds are unique in the marketplace better enabling farmers to distinguish themselves.
We are offering grant money to further support biodiversity in the central West Michigan food system. We are now accepting grant applications for the 2017 growing season. Grant award amounts will be between the amounts of $200 to $500; however, the grant committee reserves the right to offer funding above or below these amounts. We are particularly interested in allocating funding to supporting producers growing and selling in food deserts or food insecure areas.
Heirloom varieties are defined as a horticultural variety that has survived for several generations and is not used in large-scale agriculture. Many varieties are listed with the Slow Food Ark of Taste, Seed Savers Exchange, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that date back several generations, before the drastic reduction of breed variety caused by the rise of industrial agriculture. Many breeds are listed with the Livestock Conservancy.