Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Season of Giving: Reflections on Farm Aid's 2009 Grant Season

AliciaAmong my responsibilities here at Farm Aid is managing our grant program—one piece of the work we do to keep family farmers on the land, producing good food for all.

Much of the money we raise from our annual concert, held this year in St Louis, Missouri, is distributed through our grants program to family farm and rural service organizations throughout the country.

To manage this program is a bit daunting. Each year, an increasing number of applications flood our mailbox, all from worthy organizations that share our commitment to keeping family farms thriving. If maintaining communication with close to 150 applicants wasn’t hard enough, shepherding our enthusiastic grant review committee here at Farm Aid through days of discussions, budget sheets, project workplans, and endless spreadsheets in order to make final granting decisions was no easy task. The following were just a few of the things going through my mind as we sat around our conference table with stacks of files before us:
  • So many emails!
  • So many competing priorities!
  • So few funds and so much need!
  • So much good work going on out there!
  • So many delicious snacks to restrain myself from eating...
Add to the mix the extra responsibility we had this year of addressing the extreme financial pressures facing so many family farmers, as well as the unprecedented policy opportunities at both the federal and state levels to make some solid changes in food and farm policy, and you can see what a difficult ship it can be to steer.

Reflecting on the process I can say the following: I am thoroughly impressed with the incredible work going on in this country and feel an increasing commitment to family farmers. All of the dedicated work that goes into our grant review process here at the Farm Aid office pales in comparison to the collective efforts of our applicants.

And I have to say: the sweat and turmoil from the process was more than compensated for when I received the picture below in my email inbox. What a great sense of completion to see the boss sign those checks!

Thanks to all who applied. While I am so excited to announce our fantastic list of grantees, I am equally humbled by the group of applicants we were not able to fund this year. Please read more about our list of grantees and our 2009 grant program by clicking here.

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