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Micro-Grants Encourage Biodiversity in Local Food System

Micro-Grants Encourage Biodiversity in Local Food System

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Thank you to guest blogger Rachelle Bostwick for writing this post.

Slow Food West Michigan recently announced the recipients of its inaugural Biodiversity Micro-Grants. The grants provide funding to small-scale farmers cultivating heirloom varieties and heritage breeds, and are in the amount of $200 to $500.  

Slow Food strives to preserve our food heritage and maintain diversity in the food supply. A biodiverse diet is not only more nutritious, but also makes for a more stable food system and a richer local food and farming culture.

"It is our hope that the biodiversity micro-grants will impact the local food system overtime by providing small local farmers with additional resource needed to support their efforts to increase the food variety available to local communities in the central West Michigan area particularly those in underserved areas who have limited understanding, access and exposure to diverse, healthy, and affordable food choices." said Cindee Dresen, president of Slow Food West Michigan.

Micro-grant recipients include: Two Sparrows Farm and Dairy & Nourish Organic Market, Earthkeeper Farm, Our Kitchen Table, Hope Farms, Garfield Park Neighborhood Association, Schuler Farms, and Plainsong Farm. Each farm or organization is doing a special project to support biodiversity in our area. 

Two Sparrows Farm and Dairy will be raising a pair of heritage breed pigs on pasture and with non-GMO grains. The family farm raises pasture meat, including pork, beef, chicken, and turkey, as well as milk.  They are committed to sustainable farming practices and humane treatment of animal. 

Nourish Organic Market is partnering with Two Sparrows for the project. Nourish will be contributing food scraps from the store for the pigs, as well as working with the farmers to bring this meat to the public. The project will culminate in a nose-to-tail butchering event where participates can learn about how the animal was raised and take home a portion of the meat.  

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. 

We are lucky to have an abundance of skilled farmers growing unique and wonderful crops in our area. These grants give us yet another reason to partake in the delicious local food system right here in West Michigan.