March 8, 2021
Boulder County Awards 2021 Sustainable Food and Agriculture Funds
Grants will support innovative projects that champion local, regenerative agriculture
Boulder, Colo. – The Boulder County Commissioners announced the recipients of 2021 Sustainable Food and Agriculture Funds to the following farms and organizations: Boulder Mushroom, Boulder Valley School District, Community Table Farm, Dharma’s Garden, Earth Table, Flatirons Young Farmers Coalition, Garden to Table, Growing Gardens, Isabelle Farm, Kilt Farm, and Red Wagon Organic Farms.
Boulder County invited farmers, agricultural producers, the private sector, and non-profit organizations to apply for funding to accelerate and launch environmental sustainability projects that benefit the food and agricultural system of Boulder County. This funding opportunity was provided to impact four broad areas within local food and agriculture including:
- On-farm regenerative agriculture and soil health practices
- Farmer/producer education, conferences, and workshops that focus on sustainable and regenerative agriculture demonstrations
- On-farm and farmer’s market infrastructure
- Sustainable local food and crop production
In 2021, the second year since its inception, the Sustainable Food and Agriculture Fund received 58 applications and a total of $2,416,818 dollars in requests. This is up from 42 total applications in 2020. This high level of interest demonstrates the need for this fund across the county.
This year’s fund recipients will use their grants to develop educational programs, support local food production and consumption, and implement regenerative agriculture practices such as perennial planting, cover cropping, regenerative grazing, no-till drilling, and smart irrigation. These practices increase soil nutrient levels, foster healthy ecosystems, sequester carbon, and help crops become more resistant in the face of climate change.
The Sustainable Food and Agriculture Fund is supported financially by Sustainability Tax revenue. In November 2016, voters approved the Sustainability Tax ballot initiative to allocate a portion of sales and use tax revenue to fund sustainability infrastructure and programs. From the Sustainability Tax, a portion — roughly $305,000 — was set aside to address the priority needs of local farms and agricultural producers. Of this year’s $305,000 budget, $290,000 was set aside for large projects over $40,000. $15,000 was allocated for smaller budget requests of no more than $5,000.
“It is compelling to see the interest and initiative Boulder County food producers are taking in soil health and regenerative agriculture,” said Commissioner Marta Loachamin. “Through these grants, we hope to make local ag more inclusive to all who have interest and we continue to welcome input in this process. From funding grants to buying local food, it will take all of us to make these healthy agricultural practices sustainable on Boulder County lands."
“After a year of climate-fueled wildfires, poor air quality, and a global pandemic, it is more clear than ever that ever that we need to support agricultural systems and practices that build community resilience right here in Boulder County,” said Susie Strife, Director of Boulder County's Office of Sustainability, Climate Action & Resilience. “We are thrilled these grants will fund projects that help tackle climate change and further the vision of a sustainable, local, and community-supported food supply that is accessible to all.”
Large projects selected for award:
Boulder Valley School District: Farm to Institution Processing Innovation Planning and Pilot | $39,750: This project will explore the opportunity to create additional revenue sources for local farmers by sourcing, processing, and selling value-added products to institutional buyers — like schools, universities, and hospitals — who would like to increase local purchases but need large quantities of uniform products.
Flatirons Young Farmers Coalition: Educational Curriculum for Resilient and Sustainable Young Farmers | $25,000: The Flatirons Young Farmers Coalition will provide a 2-year educational curriculum that focuses on animal husbandry, soil restoration, business fundamentals for farming and ranching, and the production and distribution of small-scale grains. This project will emphasize place-based education that lifts the expertise of established local farmers while also empowering beginner farmers.
Garden to Table: Outreach and Training for Sustainable Growing Practices in School Gardens | $25,000: Garden to Table is a school garden support organization serving 18 schools in Boulder County. Garden to Table will create a Teacher and Parent Corps that will help integrate garden-based learning into school curriculum and activities. This project will provide outreach, training, support, and bilingual educational signage to make sure all students feel welcome while learning about sustainable growing practices and the importance of their school garden.
Growing Gardens: Long’s Gardens Conservation and Agricultural Plan Implementation | $35,250: Growing Gardens will implement a comprehensive ten-year agricultural management plan on Long’s Gardens, a 25-acre urban educational farm. This initiative will improve soil health and farm ecology to support the production of local food while involving and educating the public about the benefits of regenerative agriculture.
Isabelle Farm: Regenerative Grazing on Forage & Cover Crops Project: | $50,000: Isabelle Farm will convert 300 acres of cropland from a traditional hay, grain, and silage rotation to a cover crop-grazing system. Isabelle Farm will use portable infrastructure to facilitate regenerative grazing on no-till cover crops and forage crops. Additionally, this project will increase the crop residue grazing program that Isabelle Farm started in 2019 in collaboration with Van Thuyne Farms.
Kilt Farm: Land Regeneration Pilot Project for Public and Private Lands | $75,000: Kilt Farm will use mineral balancing, biological inoculations, and cover cropping to turn poor soil into productive agricultural land while cataloging costs, benefits, and improvements so that this technique can be utilized and replicated by other Front Range farmers. The equipment and techniques supported by this grant will be utilized by multiple farms on both public and private lands.
Red Wagon Farm: Increasing the Local Winter Food Supply for Boulder County | $40,000: Red Wagon Farm will dramatically increase their production of winter root crops for their CSA members, local restaurant customers, and wholesale customers. This project will improve soil health and optimize seasonal produce distribution.
Small projects selected for award:
Boulder Mushroom: Fungal Inoculation of On-Farm Biomass for Carbon-Negative Farming Best Practices | $4,107: This is a scalable pilot project in which fungal inoculation of on-farm woody biomass will be tested as a method for building biologically active soil and transforming waste carbon material. Test beds will be built at Ollin Farms and inoculated with edible strains of fungi produced by Boulder Mushroom. The beds will be monitored for one year and subsequently analyzed for the nutrient availability and biological makeup of the product.
Dharma’s Garden: Outdoor Education Shelter | $5,000: This project will fund the purchase of a seasonal shelter that will allow for socially distanced outdoor education that will include farm demonstrations and best practice workshops about regenerative agriculture and soil health.
Earth’s Table: Demonstrate Regenerative Agriculture Techniques for Six Vegetable Gardens | $4,000: This program will improve soil health in six vegetable gardens by minimizing soil disturbance, utilizing cover crops, and implementing living roots to grow garden vegetables for local food banks. Earth’s Table will partner with Edaphic Solutions to brew compost tea to be used in the gardens.
Community Table Farm: Mushrooms and Composting on Small Farms | $1,893: Community Table Farm will build a fruiting chamber to produce mushrooms as a value-added product for their CSA and use the mushroom compost as an amendment for garden beds. They plan to build a cost-effective model of on-farm production of mushrooms and soil amendments that can be replicated on small farms.
Mission of the Office of Sustainability, Climate Action & Resilience
Our mission is to advance policies and programs that conserve resources, protect the environment, and safeguard our climate in order to build a sustainable, just, and resilient community.