Slow Food Denver C.A.F.E. is pleased to announce our 2013 microgrant project to support innovative and sustainable food initiatives conceived by Metro Denver area food entrepreneurs.
Who is eligible for a Slow Food Denver microgrant?
Individuals, small businesses or non-profits in the Denver Metro area who are committed to Slow Food principles of good, clean, fair food and cultural diversity. (Boulder is not considered part of the Denver Metro area for purposes of the C.A.F.E. microgrant program.)
Projects are categorized in one or more of the following areas:
- Healthy Food Access: Projects that seek to increase access to affordable, real food in low-income communities
- Promoting Regional Biodiversity: Projects that seek to increase, protect and promote biodiverse food and farming traditions within communities in need.
Congratulations to all of the finalists from the 2013 program, who each received some funding from the C.A.F.E. program:
C.A.F.E. Dinner @ Linger (10/21) Finalists:
We believe in the power of farming. Both practicing and observing farming enables people to think about the world differently. We believe every neighborhood needs a farm and we’re building one in Denver’s Sunnyside neighborhood. Sunnyside Up Farm is a 1/4 acre neighborhood farm in Northwest Denver. Our vision is to inspire and assist a robust urban farming culture in Denver. To do this we work to build community strength through farming by providing subsidized, healthy food to residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, offering community education opportunities, and documenting best practices for Denver urban farming. We hope to create a new model of family farming, based in urban settings, which can be replicated on neighborhood lots. We are also working to reimagine the traditional Community Supported Agriculture model so that the financial security that farmers need in the early spring does not prohibit or exclude people who most need food security but cannot afford the upfront payment.
Hunger is a serious issue for dozens of our students and their families. Some are homeless, living in hotels. Others enroll in the program temporarily as they cope with a job loss or other family crisis. Each week, parent and community volunteers fill backpacks with about 25 pounds of food to supplement weekend meals for about 30 students, or 100 people total. Many of these students otherwise lament the coming weekend with too little to eat at home.
We source non-perishables from Food Bank of the Rockies, community and school food drives and various grocers. We are funded by grants and private donations, however we are seeking more sustainable source of funding to maintain and achieve higher quality and freshness in the food we send home.
In the 2012-13 school year, we increased the share of produce — sourced from local grocers as well as our school garden — that goes into each pack. This year we intend to source more produce from local growers, including a local farm that will donate produce during the growing seasons.
The Village at Westerly Creek (owned and managed by the Aurora Housing Authority) is a 55-unit, income-restricted property for seniors and disabled adults. The median income of the residents is below the poverty level (at $8,400 per year), and 68% of the residents have a physical or mental disability. It is the mission of the Aurora Housing Authority to provide affordable, sustainable, and safe homes for our residents. We believe in providing respect and dignity to our seniors in this attractive new community through a variety of activities and amenities. We were able to carve out a portion of the developable land to create a community garden for the residents. The 8’ x 8’ plots are in place, yet only half of the plots are currently used, and only by able-bodied residents. There is a waiting list of residents who wish to garden, yet are unable, as the beds must be raised for them to gain full access and enjoyment. In order for all residents to be able to access gardening, we are requesting funding to provide raised beds for all plots.
Gardens provide both nutrition and moderate exercise for our residents, as well as create ‘community’ among the participants. Our residents’ low incomes enable them to qualify for monthly “commodities” from USDA. Although these commodities provide calories, they are not fresh food, and frequently nutritionally empty. A typical box includes instant milk, dried pasta or instant potatoes, cereal, canned soups or meats, bottled fruit-juice ‘blends’ (less than 10% fruit juice), and processed cheese. Many of our residents suffer from chronic health conditions that can be ameliorated with access to moderate activity along with fresh and ‘real’ foods.
C.A.F.E. Dinner @ Beast + Bottle (9/23) Finalists:
EarthLinks is a community that improves life for adults in the Denver-metro area who live in isolation and are at severe risk due to homelessness and lack of income. In a safe environment we cultivate trust and a sense of hope, generating new perspectives on life. With Earth at the center of our programs, participants develop confidence and new skills in our garden and workshops. The fruits of our labor provide organic food for daily meals and a modest income from the creation and sale of Earth-friendly products. Goal-setting with individualized support builds a foundation on which participants forge a sustainable path forward – out of isolation.
Teaching youth seasonal, nutritional, and organic gardening and cooking skills is at the heart of everything we do. Growing Colorado Kids (GCK) began in 2008 to directly address food shortages in the homes of refugee youth who had been displaced by international conflict in their own countries and had since resettled in Colorado. For our 2013 season our youth farmers are from Burma, Somalia and Rwanda. Up until 2013 our program utilized inner-city garden plots in Denver, CO. Host homes provided water and land, and hosts received a portion of the vegetables grown in their yards. In 2013 we began doing all of our farming at a 5-acre farm owned by founders Denise and Chris Lines.
Our project provides healthy food access through the organic gardening and cooking that we do, as well as the nutritional skills we teach our youth participants. For the 2013 growing season we will have 18 cooking sessions where up to 17 youth will work with volunteers to garden, harvest and then cook healthy nutrient dense meals. The goal is not only to break bread together after working outside, but also to provide youth farmers with food to take home to their families. Our participants come from homes where food shortages are common, and there is a lack of access to nutritionally dense meals. With the food that they cook and bring home from their time at the farm, they are able to supplement their limited family food budgets. With the nutritional and cooking skills that youth gain from learning to cook they can then also make better choices about the food that they consume when they are not at the farm.
The King Adult Day Enrichment Program (KADEP)—the flagship program of the Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center—is a life-affirming day activity and respite care program for adults living with severe disabilities due to multiple sclerosis, brain injury and other neurological conditions. KADEP serves more than 135 low-income and medically underserved clients and their families each week.
Vista Grande Farm—a 50’ x 25’ (1,250sf) organic vegetable and herb garden at the KADEP facility—provides fresh produce that supplements KADEP clients’ diets. Through a free Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, clients receive weekly packages of fresh vegetables and herbs. Given that nearly 90 percent of clients are low-income and have little—if any—access to fresh produce, the importance of the CSA cannot be overstated. KADEP staff members also lead onsite food preparation classes and provide simple take-home recipes using Farm produce. The farm-to-table food experience extends healthful food awareness to clients and their families