In the Running

A few days ago we learned that our farm is a finalist for a grant from Bon Appetit’s Fork to Farm program.  We’re one of 5 finalists in the Southeast region (MD, VA, NC, SC, GA and FL). Two of the finalists will be selected to receive a $5,000 grant to fund specific projects for Farm to Fork vendors, designed to grow their businesses. In our case the project is to build a greenhouse to enable us to start more of our own seedlings in the spring.

Cherie decided to put our name into the Bon Appetit hat.  She wrote the application and was very happy when we were selected as finalists.

The winners will be selected by Bon Appetit cafe guests on September 23, which the company has designated as Eat Local Challenge Day.

Bon Appetit operates over 500 cafes at universities, museums, corporations and other specialty venues around the country.  Their cafes include the ones at Averett University in Danville (our hometown), at nearby Duke University, and at Cherie’s alma mater Eckerd College in St. Petersburg.

A link to their website announcement of the finalists is HERE.

Sometime between now and September 23 I’ll try to post a list of the cafes in our region where voting will be occurring.  You’re forewarned–I’ll be soliciting votes.  🙂

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33 comments on “In the Running

  1. ain't for city gals says:

    Oh I do hope you will win! I thought maybe you would put the money towards fencing…

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks. We have so many projects on our farm wish list. We don’t have a fencing solution that is sure to work. Plus, we were under the impression that it had to be a singular project that could be done for $5,000. Obviously that isn’t the case, as one of the finalists in our region wants to use the money as down payment on a truck. Anyway, we considered the projects on our wish list and decided that the greenhouse fit best within the parameters of their program. We really do need one.

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  2. Buffy says:

    That is awesome!

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  3. Dani says:

    Excellent news – congrats. Will be praying that your farm is not only one of the finalists, but also the winner 🙂

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks. That would be great. There are 2 winners in every region, so our odds are 2-5. But two of the finalists in our region are projects at colleges. It’s determined by voting and they’ll probably get all the students out to vote. That will make it tough for us.

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  4. Jeff says:

    It’s really a sad commentary on our society that such worthy operations as the finalists can’t get a measly $5,000 from a governmental entity. Worse, that $5,000 is taxable as ordinary income!! $5,000 will buy plenty of bullets to kill “terrorists” but won’t be spent to support life. Sad, really, really sad.

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    • Bill says:

      We actually like this one because it isn’t a government program. There are plenty of government funding opportunities, but I’m not sure they’d buy us a greenhouse.

      Income tax isn’t a problem for us these days. I’ve discovered a surefire way to avoid paying any.

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      • Jeff says:

        I’m not real keen on government, as it presently exists, but government should do something for those of us who pay the taxes that it uses for its “programs”. If it can fund SNAP, it surely could fund worthy projects like what Bon Apetít is doing. But no …. government is evil and business is good. What rot.

        I imagine that your “surefire way to avoid paying” taxes involves not making any money to pay taxes on, a common-enough plight among farmers, big and small.

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  5. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, I do hope and pray that you will get the grant to build a green house for plant starts. It would require more work in the spring to start all your plants but be better quality and wider selection for growing. I’m not convinced that plant starting is cheaper but maybe it would be on the larger scale of market growing like you do. I start plants just for the challenge but quite frankly it probably costs way more than if I would just buy my 10 tomato plants at the nursery down the road. It would be much less work but then I wouldn’t get the feel of dirt on my hands in February. After the December/January gardening shut down, it’s refreshing to begin the next year with working under the grow lights. I might try growing some winter salad greens under the grow lights this winter just for fun.

    We are in for a few days of rain here in Nebraska. Looks like rain every day until Monday. It’s fine by me. We had a real dry July so now we are catching up. My rain water catch tanks were down to 13 inches which was about half full. Now they are back to full capacity of 23 inches. At 23 inches I have about 550 gallons of rain water stored for garden watering. That’s about six weeks of watering with the techniques I use.

    Have a great day planning for the new green house.

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks Dave. It may be cheaper to buy starts, but we can’t get the varieties we want and it’s impossible to find organic starts around here. One of the things that probably made our application attractive is that we will use the greenhouse to start traditional heirloom varieties that usually aren’t available at the commercial nurseries and we will grow the seedlings chemical-free. We’re also going to use as many reclaimed materials as possible (we’ve been saving up old windows) and the labor will be from friends in the Grace and Main community in our hometown.

      Glad to know you have enough water. We’ve had a little too much lately. I had hundreds of pounds of tomatoes split. That’s a lot of lost revenue for us.

      But I’d be complaining if it wasn’t raining too. 🙂

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      • nebraskadave says:

        Split tomatoes are a sad situation because they are still just as good as the ones that aren’t but people won’t buy them. Our culture has been programed to expect nothing less than perfect fruit and vegetables. In the heirloom organic realm, it’s hard to compete with perfect.

        Have a great day in the garden.

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  6. bobraxton says:

    good for you all

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  7. Seeking Joyful Simplicity says:

    That’s great news! Let me know if there are any cafes in Nelson County (VA) or Charlottesville.
    Michelle

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  8. Steve says:

    Bon vivant!

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  9. EllaDee says:

    Unfortunately I’m too far away to vote, or be of any support other than virtual but… good luck 🙂

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  10. avwalters says:

    Tell us where to vote! If it’s an online forum–you’ve got my vote. Hope I wouldn’t have to head south to cast my ballot, though. It’s a long long way.

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  11. Congrats! Good job Cherie!
    I’ve been looking into the whole grant thing lately and it seems to me you’d be a shoo-in for the NRCS EQIP High Tunnel grant. My understanding is that they are pretty easy grants to apply for. We can’t apply because we don’t sell anything yet (my backyard egg sales don’t add up enough!)
    Check it out – http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/financial/eqip/?cid=stelprdb1046250

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    • Bill says:

      I have a couple of friends who got high tunnels with EQIP grants. We went ahead and bit the bullet last spring and submitted an application but didn’t make the cut. We’ll probably try again in the fall.

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  12. Jeff says:

    Let me make a prediction. Bon Apetít is the management company for the cafes on the campuses of Goucher and St. Mary’s Colleges, both finalists here. The other finalists are White Flint, Locals Seafood and Savannah River Farms. Bon Apetít, as a business, has a vested interest in ensuring that its suppliers are able to furnish the raw ingredients for its business, in this case, food. Why would Bon Apetít give a grant to a business that does not sell anything to it? Pardon my cynicism, but I smell a rat. My money is on one of the two colleges being the winner, not because the students will vote heavily in favor of their college (who is monitoring the voting, by the way?) but because both of them are suppliers for Bon Apetít.

    Time will tell if my cynicism is justified.

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    • Bill says:

      The grants are limited to approved Bon Apetit vendors, so all the finalists are their suppliers. They’ve asked us to supply produce for the cafe in our hometown college and we’re approved to do it, but so far we haven’t had any extra. Maybe a greenhouse will help. 🙂

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  13. Jeff says:

    Oh, I just read your comment about where the voting takes place. Wow. Just wow.

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    • Bill says:

      But it makes sense. They selected the finalists and now the students/cafe patrons will select the winners. Those colleges will have an advantage in their own cafes, but we’re the only finalist from Virginia, which should help us across the state, and we have lots of friends who will be voting for us at our local University. Cherie is an alumnus of Eckerd College and intends to let folks there know that, so that should be an advantage to us too (and there are no finalists from Florida).

      I think we have a decent chance. Especially since we have a very good project.

      But they’re all good projects so we won’t be too upset if someone else gets it.

      Like

      • Jeff says:

        Wait a minute. I’m confused. In your reply to avwalters, you wrote “[u]nfortunately the voting occurs only in the cafes run by Bon Appetit.” But in this comment, you say that you have friends “who will be voting for us at our local University” and that, apparently, folks at Eckerd College in Tampa will be voting for you too. I’m totally confused! Are there Bon Apetít cafes at your local University and at Eckerd College?

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      • Bill says:

        Yes. They have about 500 cafes around the country, on college campuses, at museums and corporate offices. One of them is at Averett University in Danville, which is how we came to be an approved vendor. Another is at Eckerd, Cherie’s alma mater.

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  14. Leigh says:

    Wow, Bill, congratulations! Even to make the finalist list is an honor, but I do hope you win.

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks Leigh. I didn’t expect to be a finalist. That’s good exposure for our farm and our practices. Getting the grant would be good for the farm and a nice payoff for Cherie’s work.

      Like

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