Since 2014, the Nature’s Finest fund annual grant program was created and introduced in order to expand the availability of locally produced food, as well as to strengthen and support local family farms that work with The Big Carrot. The grant finances and awards a variety of projects which seek to innovate local food, food supply and technology, and other related businesses.
Sometimes, the overall theme of the grant may be changed by Big Carrot to meet community needs. For example, in 2019 they asked for microgreen and sprout producers due to a lack of supply. With this grant, a supplier was able to scale up their operation and meet the needs for this microgreen supply.
The Big Carrot believes in the transformative power which can come from investing their time and money into regional food economies. Because of this, they’ve awarded close to 20 grants to Ontario farmers since the start of 2014. This funding has led to increases in the supply of local beans, chicken, organic veggies and greens, and improved fruit production with a decrease in wastewater and other waste products associated with farming.
The mission statement of the Nature’s Finest Fund is to accomplish the following:
In addition to the Nature’s Finest Fund, the Big Carrot also has the Carrot Cache; which utilizes 1/3rd of its business profits in order to build and sustain long-term agricultural and food security infrastructures. Over the past two decades, the Carrot Cache has granted roughly $2.1 million to a variety of organizations and individuals. In addition to this, it has loaned $65,000 of its shares in other cooperative ventures and received back a higher sum of $243,000. Not only does the Carrot Cache aim to fuel the food economy and the web of producers and distributors which keep it alive, but it also supports groups with interests in social justice and food security and scarcity as well.
Farmstead Fresh, formerly named Nature’s Nurturing, is a company that is owned and operated by Marcel Pijper and Josh Scheerer. They help with the growth of microgreens by utilizing shipping containers for larger yields in the area of Hillsburgh, Ontario. Because of their idea, and plans to expand their business outward in 2018, they were awarded the Big Carrot Nature’s Finest Fund Grant for $15,000. This allowed them to install new watering systems for better crop production, as well as decreasing their overall water usage, increase their harvesting yields, and reduce overall labor costs for the operation.
For more information about either of these grants or how to apply for them; you’ll need to be a resident of the Ontario area and contact The Big Carrot Group directly. They’ll assist with the application, as well as important checks like eligibility for their grants.