Co-op Patronage Seedling Grants

2015 Co-op Seedling Patronage Grant Recipients

Our 2016 Application Process is Now Open!

We are now accepting grants for non-profit projects that strengthen the local food system. Applications are now open and will be accepted through Monday, June 27 at 5pm. Please see the logistics section below for more information and links to the application form. 

What are Co-op Patronage Seedlng Grants?

As a community-owned food cooperative, City Market acts as a non-profit when we account for the profit we make from sales to our Members. Each profitable year, our General Manager recommends a Patronage Dividend to our Board of Directors. A portion of this Dividend is returned through a Patronage Refund check to eligible Members each November, based on their spending from the prior fiscal year.

According to City Market’s By-Laws, any Patronage Refunds that are not cashed within 90 days of issuance are donated to organizations supporting our local food system, as directed by our Board. Member generosity has allowed the Co-op to donate over $93,000 to local non-profits like the Intervale Farmers Equipment Corp., The Intervale Center and the Vermont Farm Viability Program, and in 2014, City Market created a new program to offer grants through our uncashed Patronage Refund checks; we're calling it Co-op Patronage Seedling Grants.  In the first year for the Co-op Patronage Seedling Grants, we were able to support 5 local non-profit projects working to strengthen Vermont's local food system with a total of over $59,800.

Our Philosophy

Through our uncashed Patronage Refund grant program, City Market grants funding to projects of Vermont non-profit organizations whose work strengthens our local food system. There are, of course, many interpretations of “strengthening the local food system”. Rather than narrowly defining this for applicants, we want to leave room for creativity and new ideas. Please make sure to articulate your interpretation within your application.

The Logistics

  • Please use our grant application form (PDF version or Word version) to apply for a 2016 Co-op Patronage Seedling Grant.  You may attach extra pages as needed.
  • 2016 applications are due no later than Monday, June 27, 2016 at 5pm. Digital applications can be submitted to Hard copies can be submitted to our Customer Service desk or mailed to City Market, Attn: Allison Weinhagen, 82 South Winooski Avenue, Burlington VT 05401.
  • Although we would like to support every worthwhile project, due to the volume of applications and the nature of limited budgets, it may not be possible for us to fulfill every request. Please note that grants are for specific projects and we will not consider grant requests for general operating funds. In addition, we do not donate or grant funds to individuals, partisan organizations, or organizations that advance a particular religious belief.
  • Grants will be reviewed by a committee of City Market Members. This committee will then make a recommendation for grant awards to City Market’s Board of Directors. Final approval is at the discretion of City Market’s Board. The Board will review the recommendations at their September 2016 meeting.
  • Grant requests can be submitted for projects (or portions of projects) totaling $500 to $7,500.
  • While we won’t know the total of the uncashed Patronage Checks until March 2017, we will allocate a minimum of $40,000 for grants in 2017 (pending Board approval of the awards). If the total funding is more than that, the additional amount will be allocated equitably to recipients (based on the percentage of total already granted).  Funds will be distributed to grant recipients in March 2017.
  • Grant applications that are not submitted, fully completed by the deadline of Monday, June 27, 2016 by 5pm will not be considered. Postmark dates do not count as receipt dates for this process.
  • Grant applications will be ranked by the Committee based on a number of factors including, impact to the local food system, details of the planning and budget process submitted by applicants, and cost of the total project versus the perceived or demonstrated impact.

Join Our Member Grants Committee

We’re looking for a committee of no more than 6 Members to meet once or twice in July (most likely the weeks of July 18 and July 25) to review grant applications and recommend funding decisions to City Market’s Board of Directors. The application process for the Member Grant Committee will close on Monday, June 20 and Committee Members will be chosen (and notified) by Monday, June 27. Committee Members will need to be available to meet in person the weeks of July 18 and July 25. Apply here!  

The 2015 Grants


Member generosity has allowed the Co-op to donate more than $153,000 over the past 4 years to non-profit organizations that are working to support Vermont agriculture and our food systems. Members who receive Patronage Refunds support these donations by choosing not to cash their checks within the required 90 day time period. City Market then donates the total of the uncashed checks to support the local food system. Last year, the Co-op engaged Members and the public in a new way with the Co-op Patronage Seedling Grants. Seventeen Vermont non-profits from around the state applied to the Co-op’s 2015 grant program, representing over $108,500 in requests. The Co-op selected 6 non-profits to receive over $54,000 in grant funding this year. The following organizations have been selected to receive 2015 grants: Burlington Children’s SpaceChamplain Elementary SchoolHelping and Nurturing Diverse Seniors (HANDS)Milton Town School DistrictRutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL), and Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers’ Association

The 2014 Grants

When Members received their 2014 Patronage Refund checks (in November 2014), they had the option to cash the check, pay Co-op equity, donate to Hunger Free Vermont, or choose not to cash the check and have the money donated to 5 local food projects that were chosen through our Co-op Patronage Seeding Grants program.  During the summer of 2014, a Member Grants Committee reviewed applications and selected 5 projects that they submitted to the Board of Directors for approval.  The Board approved funding the projects with uncashed Patronage Refund checks.  The projects that were selected for funding from 2014 Patronage Refunds are Pine Island Farm: Chicken CollaborativeLiving Well Group: Farm to Care ProgramUniversity of Vermont: Establishing a Swede Midge Damage Threshold for Brassica CropsThe Schoolhouse Learning Center: Taking Root: The Farm, Food, Forest (FFF) Program, and Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf: Food Shelf Mobile Pantry and Transport Trailer.  Throughout the year, we will update each project page with news, photos, and progress.