Mini Grants Aid Small Farms, Farmer Markets

The Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network is offering mini-grants to farmers and farmers markets that serve Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount and Walker counties, to cover costs associated with adapting to Covid-19.

The Covid-19 Adaptation Fund will provide mini-grants — averaging $500 or less — for farmers and markets to cover the cost of supplies and upgrades to ensure safety and accessibility, as well as any adaptive measures that enable farmers and farmers markets to continue to meet community food needs during this time. Grants can cover costs incurred as early as March 1, 2020.

Farms and markets interested in applying, can click here for more details and for the application (in multiple formats).

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed and approved on a weekly basis starting the week of June 15.  Weekly review will continue until all funds are exhausted, no later than July 10.

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“Local food has a shorter supply chain and so is more nimble and more responsive,” says ASAN Executive Director Alice Evans. “For that and many other reasons, we owe it to farmers and markets to ensure they make it through this crisis.”

Since March, many local farmers have shifted their entire business plans in order to sell online, make home deliveries and partner with neighboring farmers to offer easy, one-stop shops for customers, says Evans. Some farmers had major revenue streams dry up when restaurants suddenly shuttered, but many pivoted quickly to start supplying multi-farm box orders, local grocery stores and more.

Similarly, says Evans, farmers markets have been working around the clock to adapt their existing safety and sanitation standards, to remain safe during Covid-19. Some markets have transitioned to a drive-through model, where customers preorder and prepay, and then arrive on market day to have their car trunks loaded up, contact-free, by the farmers. Other markets have stuck with their traditional walk-up format and added extra measures, such as increased distance between customer and vendor.

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