CDI has been awarded $25,000 from the John Merck Fund to support our Cooperative Food Systems program.
The John Merck Fund’s support for this project will resource CDI to work with New American vegetable farmers in two New England regions. We will focus on doubling the value of wholesale markets through increasing the production capacity of these farmers, fostering collaboration among farmers, expanding and synthesizing market research, and assisting these farmers in securing additional financing for long term growth.
Support from the John Merck Fund will foster collaboration as New American farmers and leaders will connect with other New American farming projects in the region. New American food leaders from Lewiston and the Connecticut River Valley will share their work as a regional model for integration of New Americans in the food system. Participating farmers will have the opportunity to learn together from sharing their successes and challenges and build supportive cooperative relationships with each other. With CDI’s help, New American farmers and food leaders will become connected with regional food system organizers, agricultural service providers and business developers who can assist the growth of their organizations and businesses. The project will include assisting farmers with the development of local wholesale markets, such as institutions, food hubs and retail stores.
Many New American farmers have had success reaching retail markets such as farmers’ markets and creating CSAs to increase their revenue. While direct retail markets offer some growth potential for these farmers, wholesale markets provide greater opportunity for them to expand their sales and be able to increase their economic security. Through support from the John Merck Fund, CDI will be able help farmers take this work to the next level by increasing collaboration to reach more wholesale markets with larger volumes of produce resulting in increased revenue for New American farmers.