The U.P. Food Exchange, in partnership with Upper Peninsula Food as Medicine Team, is excited to announce the opening of the second Cold Storage Grant Program for area farms. Under this program, one farm from each of the regional planning districts of the Upper Peninsula will be awarded funds to build new or additional cold storage facilities for storing fresh produce.
The grant includes up to $14,000 for the materials and labor to build the facility as well as access to technical assistance for the construction and HVAC.
- Applications open January 31, 2023
- Application Deadline is March 1, 2023 at 5pm
- Awards Announced March 15, 2023
- Project Completion Deadline is September 30, 2023
Please read on to learn more, find resources, and access the link to the application.
Questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 906-225-0671 x 723.
About the Grant
The goal of the grant is to address food insecurity in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This grant program is generously funded by the Superior Health Foundation. Funds were awarded to the U.P. Food as Medicine (UPFAM) team, a collaborative group of organizations from across the U.P., to create a Prescription for Health Program and distribute mini-grants to farms for cold storage facilities that will support the production and distribution of fresh, locally grown produce. The U.P. Food Exchange is handling the aspects of the grant related to the cold storage program and farmers markets.
How does Prescription for Health work?
In a Prescription for Health program, individuals at risk for or diagnosed with a chronic health condition who also have an economic barrier to purchasing fresh produce are referred by an approved health care practitioner to the program. Qualified participants receive vouchers each month that can be spent on fresh produce at participating farmers markets. The project lead for the U.P. Food as Medicine team is the Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress (UPCAP). UPCAP’s purpose is to promote the development of the human, social, and community resources throughout the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. UPCAP works with programs that promote health and wellness, equitable housing, support for seniors, and much more. Learn more here.
How do the Food As Medicine Cold Storage Grants relate to the Prescription for Health Program?
All farmers who sell produce at participating farmers markets are able to accept the Prescription for Health vouchers. A farmers market vendor at a participating market that sells produce does not have to be a cold storage grant recipient to accept the vouchers. However, increasing the supply of fresh produce in the Upper Peninsula is essential to ensuring there is enough food available for participants in Prescription for Health, and supporting the health and wellness of all residents. Assisting farms so they may grow more produce supports this goal. Additionally, cold storage grant recipients will be invited to partner on future Food as Medicine programming, which could be outside the parameters of the current Prescription for Health program.
What is the goal of the FAM Cold Storage Grant Program?
The goal of the UPFAM Cold Storage Grant Program is to minimize or remove financial barriers that prevent U.P. farms from scaling up their operation and food production. Adequate cold storage facilities support the increase of local food production by ensuring that farms have a place to safely store produce until it can be sold. Cold storage facilities are also essential for extending the agricultural sales season by providing space for keeping storage crops that can be sold well into the winter. The FAM team wants to support the growth of the Upper Peninsula farm economy and increase access to local food for all residents.
Food as Medicine Cold Storage Grant Applicant Information
Requirements of the Grant
- Farms must be a for-profit business located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
- Cold storage must be used for the storage of produce. Produce includes fruits, vegetables, fresh herbs, mushrooms, and nuts.
- Farms must have some amount of produce to sell in the 2023 agricultural season.
- Proposed cold storage project can be designed for the needs of the farm. This must include ready to assemble walk-in coolers or coolbots. Applicants may not build a homemade cooler. Applicants are allowed to assemble a manufactured cooler. Projects where cold storage is moveable may be considered to support farms currently leasing or renting land. The grant is not a distribution grant, and not meant for purchasing refrigerated trucks for delivery purposes.
- Freezers are not allowable under the terms of this grant.
- Some electrical, excavation, and construction needed for the cold storage is allowable under this grant. The funds may not be used for a larger building project such as barn or garage.
- Farmer must be willing to work with Upper Peninsula Commission on Area Progress (UPCAP) on future Prescription for Health Programs outside of the grant cycle (up to four years). This may include:
- Accepting Prescription for Health vouchers under future funding.
- Working with UPCAP to reach a mutually beneficial contract to provide food (at a wholesale, not retail, price) for Head Start or Meals on Wheels programs, should farm have the capacity at the time.
- Farmers must provide proof of effective food safety practices, either through current GAP or similar certification, or through technical and food safety assistance offered from the UP Produce Safety Technician for successful building of the facility.
- Commitment to build storage within the parameters of the grant timelines (exceptions granted in the case of supply line issues). Grant awards are distributed starting in March 2023, with the expectation that construction is completed by September 2023. There may be opportunities for extension from grant funder if supply lines or contractor timelines present a barrier.
- Farmers must be able to provide proof of ownership or land lease agreement at the site where cold storage will be built.
- Farmers must participate in the follow-up site visit and wrap-up interviews upon completion of the project. This will include video, a short interview, and photography on-site. An additional longer interview may occur on-site or via phone. In addition to use for grant reporting, these material may be used for promotional/marketing purposes. A signed media release is required to receive funding.
- Farmers must share record keeping data, all receipts, invoices, and proof of purchases for materials and service associated with the cold storage build. Failure to demonstrate full spending of the grant funds on accepted items will result in the repayment of funds to the Food as Medicine program.
- On-farm labor to build the structure is allowable, but reimbursement is limited to $500 total for labor cost. Contracted external labor is allowed to exceed $500. Due to the overlapping nature of the farming and construction season, we recommend utilizing contracted labor for the majority of the project.
- Travel and meal expenses are not allowable.
- Proof of insurance that covers structure built with grant funds is required, if not before the project begins, then before final funds are distributed.
- Not all projects may require the full grant amount. Other projects may require more funds than are available to complete the project. Farmers are expected to contribute financially should the project cost be higher.
- Grant applicants must submit a budget that demonstrates the predicted amount to be spent on the project, including actual quotes.
- Farmer must sign a contract with UPCAP identifying terms and conditions of the grant.
Grant Rubric and Selection Process
We want applicants to understand the goals of the grant so they can better asses if their farm is a good fit. For full transparency, the rubric used in the grant selection is shared here.
Points will be awarded individually by the grant selection team. The points awarded to farms by each team member will be combined. The aggregate top point holders will be considered for grant awards.
The U.P. Food Exchange team is administering the grant and the grant process but awards will be chosen by an external board appointed by the UPFE and FAM network. This is to ensure that any personal relationships UPFE team members have with area farmers do not play into the grant award system. The external board will include residents of the Upper Peninsula with experience with agriculture, construction, and grants or grant administration.
Grant Fund Distribution
Grant funds will be distributed in one of two ways. Recipients will work closely with members of UPFE to customize a distribution system that works for both parties. All purchases and reimbursements are subject to approval by UPFE and UPCAP.
- It is preferred that large purchases are paid directly to vendor by UPCAP. UPCAP can assist with setting up payment with vendors. This ensures that large upfront costs are not incurred by the farmer themselves.
- Farmers may be reimbursed directly by turning in receipts for allowable expenditures. Items should be pre-approved with UPFE before being purchased to ensure reimbursement.
A detailed budget using the provided budget template is required for all grant submissions. This should include cost of kit or actual coolbot but also all other materials or work to be done. Some examples of cost to think about include the following:
- Excavation if necessary
- Electrical work
- Concrete for floor and insulation.
- Delivery charges for shipped materials.
- Estimated labor or quote for on farm and contracted, external labor
Find an example budget here.
Find the required budget template here. If you do not have Microsoft Word, opening and using this template in Google Docs is acceptable as well.
Be sure to review all of the above information fully before beginning the application. This includes reviewing the rubric, budget template, and budget document. Once you begin the application you will not be able to save and come back to your work. For your convenience, the full list of questions is available here. It is best to ensure you can answer all questions before beginning the process.
Resources for farmers
For those investigating what they may need, below are some resources for learning more about cold storage.