We recently posted this as a question, but have decided to repost as a new message... We are working on a proposal for the Stinner Endowment.
The project is fairly broad, covering several social issues, and, appropriately, seeking funding from a wide range of sources, and collaboration from a wide-ranging network.
Here’s the synopsis, after which I will write the question we have for everybody to give input on:
The objective is to investigate a model for local procurement of staple foods- beans, grains, etc- that addresses food insecurity among all socioeconomic populations and provides commercial growers with the infrastructure and market they need to participate profitably and sustainably.
We have commitment from farmers and non-farming landowners to put land into production of our chosen staple crops.
We have commitment from several local food buyers to purchase considerable quantities.
We have commitment from several regional non-profits that work in the Ag, food, and social service sectors to support us in any way they can- some have already provided staff time for research and grant writing.
We have enthusiastic support from the local farmers market, county commissioners, and county planning office, as well as countless community and business entities.
This investigation will include:
1) Commercial: Input/yield analyses on demonstration plots with participating farmers and landowners, profitability analysis in the value-added (processing) and distribution phases with participating bulk buyers, consumers, and non-profits.
2) Social: a feasibility assessment of programmatic distribution among institutional buyers, such as the local participating Food Bank, Public Schools, and Job and Family Services.
3) Additionally, inquiry will be made into the potential of a localized staple food system to increase employment opportunities in the region, as well as the market potential and obstacles for bringing fallow farmland into production of locally consumed staple foods.
4) Broadening the involvement of regional stakeholders in the statewide network of individuals and groups working on local food issues.
As I mentioned, we are applying for a lot of different grants, all larger than the Stinner, to support this project, but for the Stinner, we have thought about writing for support in two different areas of the project:
One is the hardware: Collecting and providing infrastructural equipment that is needed to harvest and process the food. We feel we have a very good chance to receive a SARE group farmer grant that will support the cooperative as well as 50% of the equipment. We need a 50% match, which we estimate to be between five and six thousand
The other, the software: Creating a strong network in our region of stakeholders to study the feasibility of county land for food projects, the opportunities for job training, and organizing a county task force with stakeholders around food issues
Both would involve networking with the collaborative, and both would involve infrastructure use, just two angles.
Casey suggested that we make two applications, which we intend to do, but we are not resolved about exactly how to structure it.
Please give us your suggestions, questions, comments, etc.
One way we’ve talked about is to distinguish the two areas so much that they actually become two separate but collaborative entities:
The hardware side is an appropriate technology endeavor, providing the infrastructure needed for staple foods to be locally procured, both to serve growers’ cooperatives and buyers/consumers in the commercial sector, and to serve public programs for the food insecure.
The software side is research into creating a model for growing much-needed staple foods on county-owned land and distributing that food into public program channels.
Brandon and Michelle