Co-op Seedling Grant Recipients Strengthen Our Local Food System

A person stands in front of a mural that is painted on the side of a building. The mural has a black background and features brightly-colored flowers and insects. The person is wearing a red plaid shirt and a black mask, and has a table in front of them that is piled high with various squash, apples, cider, and greens.

From providing nutritious, culturally relevant meals to improving farmworker housing, our 2021 Seedling Grant recipients are building resilience in our food system and our communities.

What Are Co-op Seedling Grants?

Through our Co-op Seedling Grant program, City Market grants funding to projects from Vermont non-profit organizations whose work strengthens our local food system. Co-op Seedling Grant funding has allowed local non-profits to pilot innovative new programs, experimenting to find what works and growing strength, justice and resilience in our food system.

This winter, we got in touch with our 2021 Seedling Grant Recipients to see how their programs are using grant funding, what challenges they’ve faced, and what they’ve learned along the way. It’s amazing to see these organizations’ positive impact in our community.

Check out some highlights of our 2021 Seedling Grant Recipients’ work below, and stay tuned later this winter to meet our next crop of Seedlings!

Age Well: Meals on Wheels for Older Vermonters

2021 Grant Amount: $7,500

Older Vermonters who choose to age at home can struggle to acquire and prepare food that meets their health needs and tastes great. Through Meals on Wheels, Age Well helps older Vermonters meet these needs – and so much more. Each meal delivered by Meals on Wheels volunteers (many of whom are City Market Members earning Member Worker hours) is a complete meal, providing 1/3 of the daily needs of people over the age of 60. Volunteers deliver more than just a meal – the regular contact with delivery recipients fills a need for social contact for both parties. 

Learn more about Age Well’s Seedling Grant


Boys & Girls Club: Multicultural Food Program

2021 Grant Amount: $7,000

The Boys & Girls Club has historically partnered with wholesalers to address food insecurity in our neighborhood by providing nutritious, high-quality meals and snacks to Club members and their families. However, their ability to provide meals from diverse communities is limited by the ingredients that wholesalers offer. With help from a Co-op Seedling Grant, the Multicultural Food Program provides youth with a greater range of meals that better reflect the cultural preferences of many Club members, while introducing others to new culinary experiences. Additionally, this initiative provided crucial support to local BIPOC restaurants when many were struggling.

Learn more about the Boys & Girls Club Seedling Grant


Common Roots: Farmstand at the Food Shelf+ Program

2021 Grant Amount: $7,500

The Farmstand at the Food Shelf + Program focuses on food access, food education, and food independence. They work with three food shelves - South Burlington, Feeding Chittenden, and the Abenaki Food Shelf in Shelburne – to provide fresh, organic produce and house-made prepared foods.  Common Roots also offers plant starts, along with compost, planters, and instructions for participants to jumpstart food independence, and runs classes with taste tests, prepared products to take home, and recipes. Together, these programs improve the food shelf experience for participants while creating access to high-quality, nutritious food and driving interest in cooking and gardening for folks of all ages. 

Learn more about the Common Roots Seedling Grant


Community Health Centers of Burlington: Farm Share Program

2021 Grant Amount: $5,500

Community Health Centers of Burlington partners with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. and Blue Heron Farm to offer a Farm Share Program to patients identified as being at highest risk of experiencing food insecurity. The Farm Share Program’s objective is to facilitate weekly farm share distributions to identified at-risk patients, free of charge. Our Co-op Seedling Grant helped to fund this program in 2022. Patients who utilized this program appreciated the variety within the shares and what it meant to have food on the table for themselves and their families. Plus, patients often shared meals with their neighbors, families, and friends. Through their connections with farm resources, patients also learned about other food security resources in the area, creating a positive multiplier effect.

Learn more about the Community Health Centers of Burlington Seedling Grant


Milk with Dignity Standards Council: Hierarchy of Controls Development, Air Purifier Installation, and  Data Collection

2021 Grant Amount: $7,500

Most migrant farmworkers in Vermont’s dairy industry live in on-farm housing, often with poor air quality due to overcrowding, the use of gas stoves for cooking without adequate ventilation, or proximity to sawdust, manure storage, chemical storage, and other respiratory hazards. As part of its work to monitor and enforce standards for living conditions on Vermont dairy farms, the Milk with Dignity Standards Council has been conducting the first-ever data-based study of indoor air quality in farmworker housing. In 2022, City Market’s Seedling Grant enabled MDSC to expand air quality monitoring to more than 40 housing units. MDSC piloted different methods to create healthier indoor air for dairy workers, such as installation of new induction stoves, new range hoods, or new HEPA air purifiers. Workers’ feedback has been positive: after his first week with an air purifier, one farmworker contacted MDSC unprompted to say that he had already noticed that the air in his living space felt cleaner and healthier. 

Learn more about the Milk with Dignity Standards Council Seedling Grant