from the Cooperative Community Fund Grant Committee
Thanks to your generous contributions, three local nonprofits were awarded 2021 Cooperative Community Fund (CCF) grants for projects totaling $5,590. The funded projects all seek to increase the sustainability and the yield of established community growing spaces. These spaces provide fresh produce and skills training for women experiencing homelessness, middle school students and their parents, and refugee farmers from Burma transitioning to farming in North Carolina.
An additional $5,000 grant will be awarded through Rural Advancement Foundation International to a participant in RAFI’s Farmer of Color Network.
$1,180 to the Women’s Center in Raleigh to build a wash-and-prep station for processing the produce grown in the Women’s Center Community Garden. The community garden provides an opportunity for women experiencing homelessness to grow fresh produce for themselves and to share with others experiencing food insecurity. The community garden is a critical component of the center’s Permanent Supportive Community Housing Program, which seeks to provide the women opportunities to learn about healthy cooking and sustainable home gardening, while developing job skills and building self-confidence.
The garden also provides a peaceful, healing environment where the women and volunteers gather as a community. We’re excited to collaborate on the wash-and-prep station, which is a first step in building an outdoor learning kitchen.
$2,000 to McDougle Middle School PTSA, Chapel Hill, to build a greenhouse for the McDougle Garden, a community garden planted and maintained by students, their families, and volunteers. The greenhouse will extend the growing season of the garden to two harvests per school year and create a growing space for a more culturally diverse selection of produce. The community garden provides a space for the students and their families to learn skills necessary for maintaining a sustainable garden, including how to prepare the soil, select produce appropriate for each season, and create a healthy ecosystem for growing healthy food.
The grant funds combined with PTSA funds will also be used for seeds and plant starts for the extended growing season, soil preparation for planting, instructional materials for families, and repairs of the existing raised beds. Funds will also be used for cooking demonstrations with the harvested garden produce.
$2,410 to Transplanting Traditions Community Farm (TTCF) for a “hardening off” cold frame hoop-house to expand the farmers’ capacity for germinating transplants to meet the need for increased production. Thirteen refugee families from Burma (Manmar) operate farm businesses on the eight-acre TTCF farm site. The farmers grow traditional Asian vegetables for their families and community, and through local hunger-relief programs, they donate culturally appropriate produce for high-risk refugee families from Burma.
The “hardening off” hoop-house will allow the farmers to move seedlings from the farm’s greenhouse after germination to the protected hoop-house to be hardened off prior to being transplanted in the field. The greenhouse is then available for germinating additional seedlings. The grant funds will cover the cost of the 50-foot hoop-house with a grant from Chapel Hill Rotary Club providing $1,000 for labor costs and additional greenhouse tables.
Weaver Street’s Cooperative Community Fund is an sustainable endowment that grows through contributions from owners and shoppers, including purchases of Hope for the Holidays products, proceeds from the April and October wine shows, and donated owner dividends and shares.
The endowment’s current value is $305,000. Grants are paid from the annual interest accrued from the fund.
A committee of worker owners and consumer owners evaluate and the grant applications and select recipients.