Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) recently awarded three organizations $10,000 each through the Grow a Farmer Assistance Fund. These organizations will use the funding to support local food growers in SMIF’s 20-county region whose businesses have been impacted by the current health and economic crisis.
The pandemic has resulted in restrictions of face-to-face sales and a disruption in distribution channels, challenging many local food producers to find other means of selling their products. This program will give farmers an opportunity to create new strategies to get their products into the marketplace.
The award recipients are the Cannon River Chapter of the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota, Driftless Grown and Renewing the Countryside. They will work collaboratively to support at least 120 farmers in southern Minnesota by providing one-on-one coaching and business training. This may include the development and execution of online marketing, branding, website development, or support with business operations and exploring new distribution systems. Farmers interested in receiving assistance should contact these organizations directly.
“Local food producers are critical to the economic fabric of our region,” said Pam Bishop, Vice President of Economic Development at SMIF. “We are proud to support these organizations which are well-situated to help farmers expand their business opportunities during this challenging time.”
SMIF has been a partner in local foods efforts for many years, primarily as a member of the FEAST! Local Foods Network which is committed to growing a sustainable, local and regional food system by providing resources and assistance to food and farming entrepreneurs. SMIF also supports small-scale farmers through the Grow a Farmer Fund, offering low-interest loans of up to $15,000 to help improve operations and increase their bottom lines.
For more information about SMIF’s local foods efforts, contact Pam Bishop at [email protected] or 507-214-7013.