For thirty years The Big Carrot has been searching for Nature’s Finest to provide our shoppers with delicious, nourishing and sustainable food. In celebration of this commitment to sustainable food production we are launching the Nature’s Finest Fund. This will become an annual grant program to expand the availability of locally produced food and to support and strengthen the working relationships between local family farms and The Big Carrot.

As founding members of Carrot Cache (a small foundation that funds local organic food initiatives), we have seen the transformative power of investing in our regional food economy. Inspired by this success, we want to provide a similar opportunity for our own producers. This year, The Big Carrot is committing $25,000 for grants to eligible Ontario Producers. This inaugural Nature’s Finest Fund will focus on Fresh Offerings. Priority will be given to applicants who focus on fresh commodities such as: extended season produce, specialty grains and pulse, artisanal cheeses, and pastured livestock.

Mission

  • To invest in our community of local sustainable food producers
  • To expand the availability of locally produced Organic food
  • To strengthen the working relationships between family farms and The Big Carrot

Criteria for Eligibility

  • Meet The Big Carrot’s Quality Standards
  • Products marketed as Organic must have a current Organic Certificate
  • Be a registered farm business
  • Funds are to be used for capital expansion (i.e. investments in new equipment, greenhouse extension, perennial crops, breeding stock, etc), not for operating expenses.

Desired Attributes of Applicants

  • Be an Ontario producer of high quality food
  • Be an existing vendor to The Big Carrot in good standing
  • Be a business that is ready to expand (not a new venture)
  • Be Co-op positive
  • Share our values of an Organic and non-GMO food system

Appropriate Projects Might Be:

  • Row covers, low-tunnels, high-tunnels and greenhouses that can extend fresh production seasons
  • Purchase of Quota for managed products so our customers can obtain foods they feel comfortable using
  • Harvesting equipment, washing facilities and packing equipment for reduced labour and more effective post-harvest practices
  • Energy efficient Refrigeration and Storage facilities that will lengthen shelf-life to extend seasonal availability
  • Market Research to identify customer values so that packaging, labels, and website become more effective marketing tools
  • Laboratory testing to provide nutrient content and best-before-dating on labels for additional customer assurance
  • Training and equipment for effective fencing, composting, compost tea, biological pest controls, and green manuring that will contribute to improved quality and reliability
  • Soil testing and application equipment that will improve soil fertility for higher yields, improved flavour, and reduced susceptibility to disease
  • Irrigation equipment and water sourcing that will extend the ability to adequately irrigate with reduced effort and water usage
  • Transportation and administrative systems to more reliably and regularly deliver products to The Big Carrot
  • Processes that contribute to food safety with recommended cull and manure handling, water monitoring and treatment, animal welfare, traceability, and installation of more cleanable equipment

Application Process:

  • Submit a Project Proposal by January 6, 2014.
  • Project Proposals will be reviewed by our consultant, David Cohlmeyer, to help outline an appropriate and complete Grant Application for submission by January 27, 2014.
  • Completed Grant Applications will be reviewed by The Big Carrot Nature’s Finest Fund Committee and Membership.
  • Recipient(s) will be announced by end of January, 2014.

More information at: http://thebigcarrot.ca/about-us/community-giving/natures-finest-fund/

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