Slow Food St. Louis Small Farm Biodiversity Micro Grant Program has been supporting the preservation of biodiversity in the St. Louis (and surrounding area) food system since 2009. To date they have awarded $50,000 to small scale, local farmers, supporting more than 200 heirloom varieties and heritage breeds.
Slow Food St. Louis is now accepting applications for the Biodiversity Farmer Micro-Grants. Slow Food St. Louis has awarded approximately $50,000 to over 40 farmers since 2009 supporting the cultivation of over 200 different heirloom varieties and heritage breeds. We are committed to allocating at least 25% of our funding to supporting producers selling in food deserts. We are offering grant money ($10,000 for 2014) to further support biodiversity in the St. Louis (and surrounding area) food system. We are now accepting grant applications for the 2014 growing season. Grant award amounts will be between the amounts of $200 to $1,000; however, the grant committee reserves the right to offer funding above these amounts.
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. The preservation of diversity in our food system is important not only for nutrition and taste, but also as a tool of flexibility as we face crop disease and climate change issues.
These grants have been awarded to over 35 different farms over the past four years. Some of the recipients include YellowTree Farm who produces heirloom tomatoes, practices seed saving techniques and is developing a portable poultry processing facility, Weidner Farm that produces dried beans and fruit and Riverbend Roots Farm that focuses on finding heirloom varieties that can be scaled for production. The success of the program has made these varieties available to St. Louisans at Farmer’s Markets, in CSAs (community supported agriculture programs), at grocers like Local Harvest and Maude’s Market, and on the menus of locally sourcing restaurants in St. Louis such as Farmhaus and Niche.