Numerous local, state, federal, and foundation grant programs—such as the long-running Farmers Market Promotion Program—have been instrumental in expanding farmers markets and programs across the country. View details on how to apply to each of the programs below. Click on the table for up-to-date deadlines.
The Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program (CFP) awards grants to eligible nonprofits, tribal organizations, and food program service providers to promote self-sufficiency and food security, and provide comprehensive, community-based solutions in low-income communities.
CFP at the Market
CFP grants are awarded to a variety of different types of organizations and projects, including several that involved farmers markets. Examples of CFP-funded projects involving markets have sought to:
- Bring farmers markets and organic food gardens to senior living communities
- Increase eastern north Philadelphia community`s access to locally grown food through CSAs, farmer’s markets, corner stores, and buying clubs.
How to Apply
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) administers CFP. NIFA typically releases a Request for Applications (RFAs) once a year. Applicants are usually given one month to complete and submit their applications to NIFA, using the online system grants.gov.
FMC highly recommends that applicants register with grants.gov and prepare an application in advance of the release of the RFA.
Percent Funding Match Required: 100%
The Community Facilities (CF) Loans and Grants program provides loans, grants, and loan guarantees to nonprofits, public entities, and tribal governments in areas with fewer than 20,000 residents to finance essential community facilities.
CF at the Market
Eligible projects include construction of farmers market structures and community facilities, such as gardens and kitchens.
How to Apply
Funding is provided through a competitive process and applications are accepted year-round.
Percent Funding Match Required: 25%+
Farmers markets provide direct access to fresh, healthy local food, benefiting farmers and consumers across the country. The Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) is a competitive grants program intended to increase and strengthen direct producer-to-consumer marketing channels. Due to the program’s dramatic positive impacts and advocacy from FMC and partner organizations, the 2014 Farm Bill increased FMPP funding from $33 million to $75 million over five years. FMC is committed to documenting the program’s successes and maintaining strong federal support for FMPP.
FMPP at the Market
FMPP grants are available to assist direct-to-consumer outlets (i.e. farmers markets and roadside stands) develop, improve, and expand operations and to provide outreach, training, and technical assistance to these direct-to-consumer businesses. Eligible applicants include:
- Non-profit corporations,
- Agricultural cooperatives,
- Producer networks and associations,
- Local governments,
- Public benefit and economic development corporations,
- Regional farmers market authorities,
- And tribal governments.
Grants can be used for a variety of projects including market startup, operation, infrastructure, training and education, outreach, market analysis and planning, customer and producer surveys, vendor and customer recruitment, and new venue establishment.
The Local Food Promotion Program provides grant funding to assist in the development, improvement, or expansion of local and regional food business enterprises. Information about the program is available at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition website.
FMPP awards range from $15,000 to $100,000. At least 10% of grants are given to projects that benefit communities located in areas of concentrated poverty with limited access to supermarkets, as defined by the ERS Food Access Research Atlas map.
FMPP attracts a wide variety of local, regional, and state-level applicants with interests ranging from health to economic development to food security to sustainable agriculture—many of which have not sought or received USDA grants before. Since 2006, 21% of all proposals have been funded, with community demand for the program consistently outweighing available funds.
How to Apply
Interested applicants should follow the instructions on USDA’s RFA page. Applicants must register with federal systems, such as grants.gov prior to submitting their applicant. FMC recommends registering at least two weeks before submitting an application.
Percent Funding Match Required: 0%
Join FMC to be alerted when the next RFA is released.
To help applicants prepare their proposals, the Agricultural Marketing Service is offering FMPP grant-writing workshops across the country. Find a workshop near you.
On May 5, 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published a Request for Applications (RFA), announcing the availability of $3.3 million in competitive funds to be awarded through Farmers’ Market SNAP Support Grants (FMSSG) in fiscal year (FY) 2015. FMSSG funds are intended to increase SNAP accessibility and participation at farmers’ markets, and support the establishment, expansion, and promotion of SNAP/Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) services at farmers markets. The closing date for applications was June 18, 2015. FMC does not know yet if similar funding will be available in future years.
How to Apply
To read the RFA and other grant-related documents, please visit www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=276335.
The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grant Program (FINI) provides competitive grants to projects that increase fruit and vegetable purchases by SNAP participants through incentives at the point of purchase and efficient benefit redemption technologies. Applicants may propose one-year pilot projects, multi-year community-based projects, or larger-scale multi-year projects.
For more information about developing or scaling up a SNAP incentive program, look into one of the hundreds of SNAP incentive programs that have operated at farmers markets since the mid-2000s, benefiting low-income people, farmers, and communities. Examples of existing SNAP incentive programs can be found below:
- Wholesome Wave’s Double Value Coupon Program
- Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks
- USDA Study of SNAP-Based Incentive Programs
- FINI Pilot Projects (FPP): One-year grants up to $100,000;
- FINI Projects (FP): Grants of up to $500,000 total over a period up to four years;
- FINI Large Scale Projects (FLSP): Grants of at least $500,000 total over a period up to four years
Eligibility: Nonprofit and government agencies, including individual farmers’ markets, state associations, and affiliated nonprofits are eligible to apply for the grants. For-profit food retailers may participate in incentive programs but may not be the lead organization that receives the federal grant.
Percent Funding Match Required: 100%. Every proposal requires a 1:1 match. This can be provided through state government, local government, or private sources; cash and/or in-kind contributions, including facilities, equipment, or services. The non-federal share of the funding may come from. Federal money cannot be used to match.
Requirements: Applicants must propose projects that:
- Have the state SNAP agency’s support and commitment to cooperate with the project;
- Provide point-of-sale incentives that increase the purchase of produce among SNAP participants;
- Operate with SNAP authorized retailers and comply with all relevant SNAP regulations and operating requirements regarding retailers and customer treatment;
- Participate in a comprehensive national evaluation, as well as conduct an individual project evaluation ;
- Include benefit redemption technologies that can be replicated elsewhere.
Priorities: The 2014/2015 FINI program prioritized funding projects that, in addition to meeting the requirements, also:
- Maximize the share of funds used for direct incentives;
- Use direct-to-consumer sales marketing ;
- Provide locally or regionally produced fruits and vegetables, especially culturally appropriate foods;
- Test innovative strategies to increase produce purchases by SNAP participants;
- Develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that can be replicated;
- Demonstrate a track record of operating successful nutrition incentive programs;
- Are located in underserved communities, particularly Promise Zones and StrikeForce counties.
How to Submit: Grants must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov. FMC recommends registering at least two weeks before submitting an application.
City, county, and state foundations and Departments of Public Health or Agriculture are well-equipped to fund market and SNAP operations. The Healthy Food Access Portal maintains a comprehensive list of current funding opportunities; be sure to look to local as well as national and regional foundations to ensure a broad base of grant support.
The Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) Community Economic Development (CED) Grant program awards grants to community development corporations (CDCs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to fund farmers markets, food hubs and other healthy food projects that create jobs and business development opportunities in low income communities, especially food deserts.}
HFFI at the Market
Although CDCs and CDFIs are the only organizations eligible for funding, several funded projects have involved farmers markets. These include:
- Neighbors and Neighbors Association’s expansion of an existing farmers market and creation of a mobile market
- Brightwood Development Corporation’s expansion of the Seashore Farmer’s Market in Mayaguez to include a Fish Market supplied by local fishermen
- The Reinvestment Fund’s enhancement of the Howard Park Farmer’s Market, development of a supermarket; and construction of a commercial kitchen for community use within the supermarket.
How to Apply
HFFI CED awards can provide $100,000 to $800,000 for up to 3 years for non-construction projects and 5 years for construction projects.
Percent Funding Match Required: 0%
Several programs and sources of funding are available to assist farmers markets and related organizations with accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) provides grants to state departments of agriculture to support projects that improve the competitiveness of specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts. State agencies apply to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) for grants, usually soliciting ideas from or partnering with organizations to develop their application. However, states re-grant the majority of their funding through a competitive process to organizations that apply to fund eligible projects. Eligibility for the state-issued grants varies by state, but several states have funded farmers market projects.
SCBG at the Market
Since 2008, SCBGP has invested nearly $300 million to increase the consumption of specialty crops within the United States. In 2014, SCBGP funded 838 projects in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories. Approximately half the funded projects were marketing, promotion, or education projects and 10 involved farmers markets and state farmers market associations.
SCBGP funds have been used to:
- Partner with universities to explore the market potential of particular items at farmers markets;
- Promote farmers’ markets statewide in order to increase the sale of specialty crops grown in-state;
- Develop a youth education club at a farmers market that rewards learning about specialty crops and trains consumers how to incorporate more specialty crops into their diet;
- Implement regional and state-wide advertising campaigns that promote farmers markets;
- Conduct farmers market campaigns to increase the use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to purchase specialty crops at farmers markets;
- Train direct-marketing farmers in marketing, the economic advantages of selling at farmers markets, and food safety;
- Distribute recipe cards at farmers markets;
- Collect pricing, gross sales and customer information regarding specialty crops at farmers markets and make that information available to specialty crop producers and industry partners.
How to Apply
Contact your state department of agriculture to discuss applying for a state SCBGP sub-grant. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently began administering SCBGP and therefore funding may be more available for projects and programs involving farmers markets, especially those targeting veterans.
Take note that apart from administrative costs, SCBGP funds must be used to exclusively promote specialty crops. For example, funded advertisements could say “Buy Sweet Corn! It is the Best!” but not “Buy Local,” or they could say “Buy Michigan Grown Apples” but not “Michigan Grown” because the latter promotes the Michigan Grown brand generically.
Grant funds also cannot be used to solely benefit a single organization. For example, funds could be used for an advertisement that says “Buy Local Tomatoes” with a farmers market’s logo, but the advertisement could not just have the logo on it.
Percent Funding Match Required: Varies
CSX and The Conservation Fund are hosting a second round of a small grants program aimed at improving the transportation and distribution of fresh, healthy food to communities in need. More than 23 million Americans across the country have limited or no access to fresh produce, dairy, meats and seafood. One of the contributing factors to these “food deserts” is the lack of infrastructure to distribute fresh food to markets. Ten grants were awarded in early 2015 and applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Grant Program for Transporting Healthy Food.
This program offers grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 to local government and nonprofit entities that distribute fresh, local foods in 22 states where CSX operates, including: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
These grants will be used to address gaps in local food distribution by providing funds to enhance delivery capabilities with support for a range of activities related to transportation, such as:
- acquiring refrigerated vehicles for direct delivery to markets;
- financing “veggie vans” to bring fresh food to isolated communities;
- providing better access to food hubs or other sites where produce, dairy, seafood and meats can be stored safely for distribution; or
- purchasing produce boxes and cold storage bins to keep unsold food fresh for the next day’s farmers market or wholesale purchase.
Applications Due by September 18, 2015