MONTEREY, CA – PRO*ACT proudly announces the 14 winners of its Cultivating Change Local Farm Grant Program, which awards $75,000 in grants to local farmers who have taken the initiative to improve the safety, efficiency, or sustainability of their operations.
Launched in 2015, the Cultivating Change program has awarded over $400,000 to 52 farms in 18 states and 1 Canadian province. Funded by PRO*ACT’s distributor network, Cultivating Change is committed to supporting local farms to improve their ability to grow, market, and distribute safe and sustainable food.
With more than 40 applicants across 27 states and our first-ever Canadian applicants, we were encouraged to see the engagement from local farmers who are working to implement goals of improved safety, sustainability, and growth.
After hearing that East Texas Aquaponics in Mineola, Texas was receiving $10,000 for their renewable energy expansion project, Managing Partner Sharon Hasting excitedly shared that they “want to make sure that we are making the right choices for the environment – this allows us to do the right thing as we grow the operation.” “Are you ok seeing a grown man cry?” added Managing Partner Richard Hastings.
Frecon Fruit Farm in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, which grows apples, peaches, and cherries for their community, received $10,000 for new fencing around their orchard, which improves food safety. “You have no idea what a relief and how exciting this is for us,” said Stephen Frecon, 3rd generation owner of Frecon Fruit Farm. “We’ve tried a variety of ways to manage the whitetail deer population; this grant makes the fencing project so much easier.”
Additional winning projects included greenhouse expansion, pathogen testing laboratory, food safety compliant bin purchasing, bioluminescence meter for in-house food safety testing, and high tunnel construction. Selected by a panel of industry professionals who carefully reviewed and scored all projects on a variety of criteria, applicants focused improvements across all three NEW panel categories: food safety, sustainability, and wholesale readiness.
“Our distributors work year-round with family farms to bring their locally-grown product to foodservice and retail customers, this program is a way to continue those investments, and build local farms that are so vital to their communities.” Shared PRO*ACT Director of Marketing Brian Denton. “Cultivating Change grants allow these farms to fund projects that will allow them to invest in their current and future operations and pave the way for the next generation of farmers.”
PRO*ACT is committed to real, verifiable sustainability improvements across its supply chain, reflected in these meaningful investments to North America’s finest family farms. Past winners have used the grant funds to purchase new equipment, implement conservation efforts, educate the community, install automation systems, construct new facilities, increase production square footage, and launch innovative sustainability programs.
Applications to participate in the Cultivating Change competition in 2020 will be accepted beginning on October 1. Requirements and contest rules, as well as profiles of all of our winners, can be found at www.cultivatingchange.org. About PRO*ACT: PRO*ACT is North America’s leading distributor of fresh food to the foodservice and retail industries, sourcing from premier national, regional, and local farms. PRO*ACT streamlines the produce supply chain, offering significant cost benefits and a simple, one-call solution to source the freshest produce from more than 70 third-party-inspected, independently owned, local distribution centers across the United States and Canada. PRO*ACT provides category cost management through commodity contract pricing, in-house consultation services, and produce program management.
About CULTIVATING CHANGE: Founded in 2015 as a way for PRO*ACT and their regional distributor companies to further invest locally through giving grants to small farms across the United States, Cultivating Change will reach half a million dollars in funding in 2020. With hundreds of farms applying for grants, and hundreds of thousands of people voting, sharing, and engaging with small farms in 41 states, PRO*ACT has exceeded the goal of giving, and elevating farms in their communities.