Join UNFI’s Melody Meyer in Supporting the Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund

Melody Meyer
 
I have been honored to be the executive director for the UNFI Foundation since its inception in 2012. Early on, my board asked me how we could bring together likeminded foundations to make a larger impact in our priority areas together as a community. 
 
I began holding monthly calls with other funders who supported organic agriculture, and we all coalesced around the idea of fostering new organic farmers. We were concerned that the average age of the U.S. farmer was over 65, and we knew that organic farming provided a clear path to prosperity.
 
When Cathy Calfo from the CCOF Foundation joined those funders’ calls, the idea immediately resonated with her. How could we make a difference and grow the next generation of organic farmers?
 
With the CCOF board fully embracing the idea, Cathy and her staff developed and implemented the Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund. This one-of-a-kind program provides financial support for organic education from kindergarten through college.
 
Why is the Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund so important to the UNFI Foundation?
 
The UNFI Foundation’s focus is to expand organic acres and increase the number of organic farmers in the United States. We want to support organizations that serve our local communities with organic food and farming projects. Simply stated, we sustain projects that address our priorities to:
Increase organic agriculture by significantly increasing acreage.
Provide research and science to develop organic farming practices.
Protect the biodiversity of our seed supply and the stewardship of genetic resources of organic seed. 
Teach organic farming practices.
Foster the next generation of organic farmers by increasing the number of organic farmers.
 
The Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund directly impacts the last two of our priorities to teach organic farming practices and foster the next generation of organic farmers. One could argue it has the potential to impact all of them indirectly. 
 
Why is the Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund so important to me? 
 
To date, the Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund has given 247 grants to students and teachers of organic agriculture, totaling $400,000, which has thus far surpassed my wildest dreams. 
 
That means that teachers in kindergarten through eighth grade classrooms are teaching children the basic components of organic gardening and eating. 
 
Students in seventh through eleventh grades who are National FFA Organization members are implementing Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects that follow USDA organic production standards. 
 
Young adults enrolled in vocational training programs, junior colleges, and undergraduate institutions are taking courses to enhance their careers in organic agriculture. 
 
Teaching our youth about the importance of organic agriculture and its benefits to society, our health, and the environment is one of the most important endeavors we can pursue. It is the next generation of eaters, farmers, and activists who will take organic agriculture to the next level. 
 
When organic is the norm—and not the exception—we will be well on our way to healing the planet and feeding our hungry. Supporting the Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund pays this vision forward.
 
 
The fundraising campaign for the 2018 Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund is open until May 15, 2018. To learn more, please visit www.ccof.org/foundation and email or call Madelaine Baer at mbaer@ccof.org or 831-346-6259. 
 
***
 
This article was submitted by Melody Meyer of UNFI, who has long supported the CCOF Foundation’s Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund. She was instrumental in developing the fund, garnering support from her many friends in the organic agriculture community, and advocating for making organic education accessible to all. Meyer has been so instrumental to the fund’s success that we honored her this year with our Organic Champion Award. As we launch the fundraising campaign for the 2018 Future Organic Farmer Fund, we asked Meyer to share why the fund is important to the UNFI Foundation and to the future of organic agriculture. 
 

Tags: