Introducing the 2014 Nature’s Finest Fund Recipients
One of the most rewarding aspects of working at “the Carrot” is our commitment to giving back to our community and sector. Community giving is a central part of our culture here and is embedded in the by-laws and governance of our co-operative.
Carrot Cache is the most public face of our donations work. Carrot Cache is a small but mighty foundation that funds local organic food initiatives. Remember, 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, well it is equally hard to find a local producer in the sustainable food movement in Ontario that has not benefited in some way by the transformative power of Carrot Cache.
Closer to home, our Big Carrot donations committee answers the call of hundreds of community requests every year from local schools, shelters, teams and community gardens. Breakfast Programs and Pre-Natal Nutrition workshops are critical to a healthy, thriving neighbourhood, and we are proud to support them.
November marked our 30th anniversary! In celebration of the producers at the heart of our success, the Big Carrot membership created a new fund just for our own producers (or producers who would like to work with The Big Carrot). The fund serves many purposes:
- It expands the availability of locally produced food for our customers
- It supports and strengthens the working relationships between local family farms and The Big Carrot
- It provides a little extra cash flow that might help realize a new project for our producers.
$25,000 was committed to the inaugural Nature’s Finest Fund.
As a member of the Nature’s Finest Fund committee I had the pleasure of reading the applications (a hopeful endeavour during this sub-zero January). I learned a great deal about precision seeders, mushroom production and farm finances.
These applications confirmed two things I know about our producers – their intrepid ingenuity and their integrity.
I was very moved by how many of the producers wanted assurance that there would be enough money for everyone. The latter of those two observations, makes perfect sense, no? Organic producers are ensuring there is something for all of us, now and 100 years from now.
The caliber of our many applicants made it all the more difficult. Our goal was to support as many producers as possible while still making the grant impactful. I hope you will follow the stories of these projects as they take root and blossom. They may seem straightforward- a seeder, a drying barn, chicken coops… but in fact these projects touch on some pretty big agricultural issues of our day – import replacements, supply management, season extension and more…
Here are the recipients for this year’s Nature’s Finest Fund:
Field Sparrow Farms
Field Sparrow Farms’ vision is to promote maximum biodiversity in a productive farm landscape using a rotational grazing system that maximizes soil and plant health as well as maintaining habitat for grassland bird species. This year, Henry and Sarah will add pastured poultry to their successful pastured beef and pork farm.
Project: Purchase three mobile chicken units for pastured poultry.
In 2009, Kind Organics started to farm organically north of Toronto, in the Newmarket area. Cultivating soil and hydroponic sprouts year-round, Kind Organ- ics also grows many types of greens, herbs, edible flowers and vegetables through organic practices. Kind Organics now supplies 8 farmers’ markets in the summer, 4 year-round markets and over a dozen grocers in the GTA weekly.
Project: Repair and update an existing greenhouse for season extension and increase production.
Located in Norfolk County, Sosnicki Organics is an Organic Family Farm and Food Processor committed to sustainable agriculture. Their philosophy is that farming practices should leave the soil, air, water, plant life, animals and people healthier – and happier. Ben and Jessie farm just under 100 acres of 30 different vegetable crops with well over 100 varieties.
Project: Purchase a JPH-4 seeder
Nature’s Way Organics
Nature’s Way Organics produces some of the finest organic soya beans and popcorn in Ontario along with 40 different types of vegetables. Located on the North Shores of Lake Erie, the microclimate makes it ideal for growing fresh delicious vegetables and nutritious hardy grains. Nature’s Way Organics takes pride in providing local nutritious food to their valued customers.
Project: Convert existing buildings to drying and storage facilities for edible beans.
Tansy Farms grows seven different varieties of organic apples and over 2000 trees in the Nottawasaga Bay region. Tansy Farms has been selling apples to The Big Carrot for over 20 years.
Project: Purchase a precision sprayer.
Maureen Kirkpatrick Standards Coordinator
Click here for a pdf summary of the projects