Big Impact: Food and Farm Initiative

The Community Foundation Food and Farm Initiative awarded more than $2.2 million in grants to connect the state's burgeoning local food movement with the fight against hunger. 

It is impossible to fully convey the systems-level changes the Food and Farm Initiative sparked, and the new relationships and approaches that continue to develop from our five-year focus on the dual goals of healthy food for all and improved viability of Vermont’s farms and food enterprises. We hope the final report below gives you some insight into the work accomplished and the lessons learned.

We thank our philanthropic leaders, as well as our program partners, for helping prove a model of collective impact can work. We also recognize and appreciate the partners in the state who are continuing to lead and support the work going forward, because the work is not yet done.

If you would like to learn more about ongoing Food and Farm work, please contact: Gaye Symington at the High Meadows Fund or 802 388-3355 ext. 381

2019 Final Report

2018 Update

As the Initiative comes to a close, we wanted to share an update on the work of a few grantees—which offers a glimpse of the Initiative’s impact as a whole.
Read the update here.


The High Meadows Fund, a supporting organization at the Community Foundation, made significant two-year grants in 2018 to food aggregation and distribution nonprofits, which are food hubs that provide an important link between farmers and regional markets. They believe that strategic investments, efficiency improvements, and business coaching will help increase the markets for local foods and also improve the long-term viability of the food hubs. If you are interested in funding this work, please contact them directly.

Connecting All Vermonters with Local Food

Food and Farm Initiative grantees across the state are working on creative solutions to ensure that both Vermont families and Vermont farms will thrive now and in years to come. This video, featuring Food Connects' local food buying clubs in Brattleboro, offers a quick look at just one of the innovative ways grantees are overcoming the challenges of making local food accessible to Vermont families of all income levels.

Since 2012, the Food and Farm Initiative has awarded more than $120,000 to Food Connects and partners to establish and run Buying Club programs at schools in Brattleboro, Rutland, and Newport. In 2015 the initiative awarded more than $60,000 to Food Connects to support a new project that aims to collect and share purchasing data from schools around the state so that producers are better able to grow, process, and package foods in ways that work for Vermont schools. Learn more about Food Connects.

2015 Progress Report

We reached the half way point of our five-year initiative in 2015; we published a brief report detailing some of the progress of our grantees.
Read the whole thing here.



We fund high-performing organizations who collaborate and develop projects with the potential for statewide, systemic impact and convene them throughout the year to build a community of learning. The Food and Farm Initiative aims to foster an environment in which new connections, deeper understanding, and innovative solutions can emerge. 


In late 2016 we awarded 11 grants totaling $660,000 to connect all Vermonters to healthy, local food. Though this grant cycle marks the last round of competitive grantmaking for the Food and Farm Initiative the work of our grantees will continue to grow in the years to come.


In June 2015 we awarded 12 grants totaling $500,300 to support continuing local and statewide efforts to help connect Vermont families of all incomes with local food. In this round of grants, we include projects that continue the momentum building in farm to school as well as those that extend into retail markets like independent grocery stores and farm-to-workplace programs.


We awarded eight grants totaling $280,000 in December 2014 to support continued progress in linking efforts to increase food security and strengthen the local food system, including two-year commitments to Hunger-Free Vermont and the Vermont Farm to Plate Network. 


Year two grants for the Food and Farm Initiative were announced in February 2014. We awarded nearly $500,000 to nine projects across the state, and with the support of nearly 50 fundholders, foundations, companies, and individuals, we were able to fully fund all of the worthy projects presented to us.


We launched the Food and Farm Initiative with five collaborative grants totaling more than $300,000 to organizations working to bring more local food to cafeterias and more knowledge to classrooms. Read the List of Inaugural Grants 

Read about projects supported by the Food and Farm Initiative


We believe it is possible to build a healthy, local food system that serves everyone in Vermont, and the Food and Farm Initiative is committed to fostering the collaborative partnerships needed to make it happen. We are bringing together philanthropists and community leaders to connect the dots between food security and local food, leveraging our resources and knowledge to mutually strengthen our efforts through:

    We're Here to Help

    If you have any questions, please contact:

  • Collective Giving: The support of nearly 50 fundholders, foundations, companies, and individuals helped increase our grantmaking by 60% in 2013 and secured a $100,000 Jane’s Trust challenge grant.
  • Shared Learning: In October 2013 we brought Kathleen Merrigan, Former Deputy Secretary to the United States Department of Agriculture, to speak to a group of philanthropists and community leaders in Richmond. Watch her full speech.
  • Collaboration: The Community Foundation is a member of the Farm to Plate Network—the statewide collaboration working together to increase economic development and jobs in Vermont’s food and farm sector and improve access to healthy local food for all Vermonters. Our engagement began with support for the state legislation that created the Farm to Plate Initiative and funding for its 10-Year Strategic Plan to strengthen Vermont’s food system and double local food consumption by 2020. The Food and Farm Initiative continues to provide funding for the Network’s operations. Learn more.
  • Storytelling: In 2014, Food and Farm Intern Ben Harris collected stories and made short videos about our grantees. Watch their stories

Understanding Vermont Report: Local Food for Healthy Communities 

Our 2013 report, Local Food for Healthy Communities: Bringing Food Security to All Vermonters, is part of our Understanding Vermont series for philanthropists and grantmakers made possible by generous contributors to the Community Foundation's Philanthropic Leadership Fund

The local food system offers many opportunities for the nonprofit sector and coordinated philanthropy to make a difference and this report highlights approaches and programs that are especially promising. The Community Foundation's Local Food and Farms Fund pools and distributes contributions toward those approaches. We invite you to download the report and discover ways to take action on this critical issue.

Download the report [1.3 MB PDF]
Works Cited

Learn about the organizations mentioned in the report