Since June, CATALYST has been profiling the small-scale local food producers and foodies-cum-activists who have received micro-grants from Slow Food Utah. For those just tuning in, Slow Food Utah is the local branch of Slow Food USA, itself part of an international movement that aims to help everyone on the planet gain access to "food that is good for them, good for the planet, and good for those who produce it."
This month, the micro-grant program opens to another round of applications for the 2013 season. SFU's first annual fundraiser—the Feast of Five Senses—was held to benefit the Riley Elementary School garden in 2008. Since then, the micro-grant program has funded numerous projects that continue to advance SFU's mission in our community. Funds are directed to smaller projects where $1,000 can make a real difference.
Have you been inspired by the stories of previous micro-grant recipients published here in CATALYST? Are you considering submitting an application this year? We spoke with the good people at SFU about what makes a good application.
Experimental projects are welcome. SFU recognizes the high potential failure rate in agricultural experiments, and the organization willing to fund those projects that aren't 100% certain to work out— but are less impressed when the plan itself seems experimental, especially if the budget contains only ball-park estimates. "You want to see something new and interesting, but one-time funding is often only enough to get off the grounds... starting is often the easy part, trying to sustain [a project] is challenging," notes Jen Colby, the group's microgrant founder. Successful recipients in past years have often provided detailed information about the cost of all equipment, supplies, and other outlays, including, (for larger projects) any additional sources for secured funds, or a detailed plan on how additional funding can be secured: "We want to know that the applicants can follow through, that the project will have a lasting impact and not just fade away," emphasizes current SFU Chair Gwen Crist.
While it's true that SFU aims to support small, local producers, helping with commercial success is only part of the picture —the demand on the part of the consumers is driven by education and empowering the local community to learn about and take responsibility for the impact of their food choices. So, while those applying for equipment or supplies to start or expand a commercial operation may receive a grant, Crist notes that integrating a plan for educating the community is a vital component of￼successful applicants.
Incorporating other Slow Food components into your plan can also make it more appealing to SFU's selection committee. The Ark of Taste found on Slow Food USA site lists 200 tasty plants and animals in danger of extinction. Grantees Benjamin Bombard and Katherine Pioli raise (and blog about on CATALYST's website) two of the endangered fowl, Cayuga ducks and American Buff geese.
Finally, for those that think they have an interesting idea, but are unsure if it fits with Slow Food philosophy or want more guidance on presenting it, former chair Christi Paulson recommends emailing questions before filling out and submitting the application.
Deadline: February 1, 2013.