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Salt Lake CIty is funding individuals and organizations to grow their own food; Here's how to apply

Posted at 2:52 PM, Sep 12, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — A new program called the SLC Food Equity Microgrant is funding individual residents and community groups to establish and enhance their own gardens for food production.

“It's amazing because it helps you know where your food is coming from and what's going into it and having it be completely organic, that there's no chemicals on it at all," said Rita Egbert, a Sugar House resident who received the Microgrant.

Over 45 individuals, including Egbert, were awarded $250 each for their gardens, while 13 community groups, organizations and small businesses were awarded up to $5,000 as part of the new pilot program for Salt Lake City.

Maria Schwarz, food equity program manager for Salt Lake City, says the grant spanned beyond food production.

“We also got applications asking for folks to support their chickens, their backyard chickens, or fruit trees, putting in, you know, irrigation, like drip irrigation, to help with water conservation,” she said.

Schwarz hopes the program can bring food production closer to people's home.

“This program is hopefully helping us to like re-localize our food system. So putting food production closer to where it's being consumed, instead of, you know, shipping bananas across the ocean or bringing in, you know, apples from New Zealand...

“So from our sustainability department, we're thinking about that, from a water use perspective, an emissions perspective, as well as labor and a social justice perspective and making sure that we're supporting a local food system that can support good jobs, support good food, and a good environment.”

For Egbert, the microgrant hasn’t only allowed her to bring food from her backyard to her own kitchen, but it has also enabled her to share food with others.

“I can't say a cost that I have saved really, because I do share so much of my produce to people who come visit but I eat from it every day. And so from basil, tomatoes, cucumbers cantaloupe with my lunch today is just to know that you grew it and it tastes so good."

While Egbert notes there ways to buy cheap produce, she growing it yourself is a unique experience.

“I know you can go to the grocery store Rancho Market that sells their fruits and vegetables that amazing costs. But to grow it in your yard to pluck it right off your vine is an experience that I think everybody needs to taste.”

According to Salt Lake City’s sustainability page, the City Council renewed the SLC Food Equity Microgrant program’s budget for Fiscal Year 2024. Applications for the next round of funding will open early next year.

The following are the eligibility requirements:

  • Individual residents or households living in Salt Lake City 
  • Groups of two or more residents living in the same neighborhood 
  • Community-based organizations, including both registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations or unregistered community groups based in or serving Salt Lake City 
  • Community Councils and other neighborhood-based groups and organizations 
  • Locally-owned businesses, social enterprises, and/or cooperative enterprises 
  • Local farmers and others who grow and sell food locally