SARANAC LAKE — The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted critical stress points in our local food system. Farmers have reported labor issues, market closures and fears of supply chain disruption due to the virus. In response to these uncertainties, the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) has awarded eight North Country farm and food businesses a total of $100,000 in grant funding for efforts that will bolster food and farm security in the region.
Recipients of ANCA’s 2020 Local Food System Security Grant Program, which was launched in March, include Black River Valley Natural in Lyons Falls, Echo Farm in Essex, The Hub on the Hill in Essex, Juniper Hill Farm in Wadams, Miracles by the Acre in Watertown, North Country Creamery in Keeseville, Pitney Meadows Community Farm in Saratoga Springs and Wild Work Farm in Keene Valley. Grant awards range from $3,500 to $25,000.
“This grant will allow producers to increase their ability to feed their communities, serve vulnerable people in those communities and ensure their own sustainability,” said ANCA Local Food Systems Coordinator Adam Dewbury. “These are key to developing a secure local food system that can withstand external threats like the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Funding for the grant program was made possible by the same anonymous donors who supported ANCA’s 2019 Local Farm Grants, which awarded nearly $104,000 to eight farms that year.
“Healthy food systems are critical to building resilient communities and ecosystems,” the donors said. “The recent shutdown highlighted how concentrated and fragile our national food supply chains are. We are proud to amplify ANCA’s work aiding North Country farms and hope that these awards will inspire others to do the same.”
Dewbury said the grant committee received and reviewed 36 proposals seeking a total of over $500,000 in funding. He noted this demand for project support demonstrates financial need among small farms as well as the potential for them to expand local food production in the North Country.