Good Farm Fund benefit raises $40,000 for local farm grants

By Kate B. Maxwell, Mendocino Voice  | August 12, 2019

The crowd contributed another $10,000 in a real-time crowdfunding event

MENDOCINO Co., 8/12/19 — Just as one small farm can provide food for many people, but it takes a community to support our small farms — and that community came out in their finest summer outfits at this year’s Good Farm Fund summer banquet. Thanks to a generous $10,000 matching grant from the Redwood Credit Union and an outpouring of community support, the fifth annual Midsummer’s Night Feast, held at Yokayo Ranch, raised a record amount of nearly $40,000 in one night towards their small farm grants, while providing a bounty of delicious farm-to-fork dishes prepared by local chefs. 

Happy farmers and chefs serving up food to the crowd.

The Good Farm Fund is a non-profit organization which supports the development of a sustainable local “foodshed” (like a watershed) in Mendocino and Lake Counties, primarily through the annual farm grants, and by increasing access for local food through financial support for the CalFresh “market match” program. The organization has awarded nearly 50 grants since 2015, and this year’s dinner, which more than doubled the fundraising amount from 2018, should ensure an even larger amount of grant funding for this upcoming round of awards, which will open in the fall. The organization also holds an annual winter feast fundraiser, set this year for December 10, as well as the third annual Mendocino Homebrew Festival, happening November 2.

The enthusiasm for small farms and community building was palpable at the July dinner, where attendees took a break from enjoying a multitude of locally produced goodies to run around in a “real-time crowdfunding” event led by local auctioneer Rachel Britton, and raised donations from a number of individuals, from $10 to $1,000, to match the $10,000 contribution from the Redwood Credit Union. The credit union, along with Frey Vineyards and Sonoma Clean Power, is one of the Good Farm Fund’s “Foundation Sponsors,” who provide dedicated support for local farm grants. Redwood Credit Union’s Community Programs Manager Peggy Cleary announced the matching grant at the dinner, noting that supporting local farm was a perfect fit for the credit union movement, which was first started to help local farmers.

Emcee Rachel Britton raises her hands in delight as Redwood Credit Union’s Peggy Cleary announces a $10,000 matching grant.

“We’re thrilled to be here because we really believe in the mission of the Good Farm Fund,” Cleary told the crowd, calling the organization’s accomplishments impressive. He continued, “One of the things we love about the Good Farm Fund is that it started as farmers coming together to help farmers.”

He added that the the 70 year old credit union has the same goal, “It’s part of our mission, we’re about people helping people. We’re part of these communities, we care about what you do, and we invest in organizations that really make an impact on critical issues facing our communities. Food security is really important to us, and we’re just so delighted and really honored to partner with you.”

The dinner itself was a living example of community involvement, including more than 20 different local farms paired with local chefs, coordinated by more than 32 volunteers who helped with organization, parking, set-up, and more, as well as a variety of local sponsors from local businesses and community organizations, all contributing towards a community feast. Guests enjoyed sampling a wide array of different dishes created by local chefs, paired with local farmers, as well as refreshments ranging from kombucha to coffee to locally distilled liquors, and many lingered as the sun set to ensure all the treats were eaten before heading home.

Local farmer Alex Nielson of Cinnamon bear Farms spoke about how his three grants have helped him grow his business.

Alex Nielson, of Cinnamon Bear Farms, a three time grant recipient and local farmer, gave a brief speech about how important the grants have been for his farm: “The Good Farm Fund has been instrumental for our farm…having us backed by the community, it’s been amazing. They’ve provided us tools that have helped us grow, and provide more food for the community. It’s amazing to see all the faces, and see a lot of people that I see at the market, coming up and tasting our food, and thanking us, it’s really a blessing to see. This is a business that’s not easy to move up in, and having the capital backing from the Good Farm Fund has been immense….without it, we wouldn’t be here right now.”

More photos of the event are included below. You can learn more about the Good Farm Fund’s work at their website, and the next round of small farm grants will open in the fall. The organization’s next events are the annual Mendocino Homebrew Festival, on November 2, and you can check out a video for interested brewers here, and the winter feast, scheduled for December 10.

Over $100,000 in farm grants to Mendocino and Lake county farms have been given out.

Good Farm Fund presents the Inaugural Mendocino County Homebrew Fest! November 4, 2017 | Ukiah

We have partnered with Visit Mendocino County and our beer geek friends to introduce an exciting new event, the Inaugural Mendocino County Homebrew Festival!  This new addition to the Mendocino Mushroom, Wine and Beer Festival is set for November 4th, 2017 at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center.

The afternoon will feature brewers from several clubs in Lake and Mendocino Counties and also from around Northern CA competing to become the people’s choice winner.  The event is also open to ciders, mead and other fermented beverages including kombucha & jun. Local Farm-to-table food will be available for purchase.

The festival will include both a People’s Choice award and Brewer’s Choice panel winner.

All proceeds go to support Good Farm Fund, which makes fresh local food available to lower income community members by funding the SNAP/food stamp Market Match program at farmers markets and provides strategic economic development grants to Lake and Mendocino County small farms. Farm to table food provided by the Mendocino College Culinary Arts Program will be available for purchase.

Get all the details at the >> Mendocino County Home Brew Fest website.

If you are a home brewer, >> sign up now to be in the competition. If you know someone who makes great beer, encourage them to get signed up! Deadline for entry is October 4th.

If you like beer and fun >> get your tickets here.

If you would like an opportunity to promote your business by joining our >> fine cast of sponsors  email us at goodfarmfund@gmail.com to find out about our sponsorship packages.

EVENT SPONSORS:

Ukiah Brewing Company, The Big Chief of Laytonville, Visit Mendocino, Westside Renaissance Market, Saucy, Beer Belly Fermentation Supply, Riley’s Cab (which will be providing attendees with free cab service within a 10 mile radius of the event), KWINE, KMAX and KZYX