Illinois Farmers Resilience Fund

Resilience Fund

UPDATE: Application opens December 15, 2021 and closes on February 15, 2022

With financial support from the Chicago Region Food System Fund, the Alliance launched the Resilience Fund in 2020 to help Illinois farms invest in critical infrastructure to scale up and adapt their business models. The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased demand for locally produced food in Illinois. With the right investment in on-farm infrastructure now, local food producers can leverage this moment to expand the supply and diversity of local food. 

The Alliance’s Resilience Fund helps Illinois local food producers invest in critical infrastructure to scale and adapt their businesses to improve the capacity and resilience of the local food system. 

Last year, the Resilience Fund awarded 27 local farms a total of $225,000 in grants. In all, 80 local food farmers applied for over $1 million in support, indicating an ongoing and unmet need for local food infrastructure development. 

Now thanks again to the generous support of the Chicago Region Food System Fund, the Alliance is proud to announce the return of the Resilience Fund.

In the coming months, $175,000 will be awarded to local food producers for investment in critical infrastructure to increase the capacity and resilience of our local food system. 

Farms can apply individually or in collaboration for up to $10,000 for full or partial funding of a project or purchase. Grant applications will be reviewed by a committee of local agriculture and food specialists. 

This fund is not intended to be emergency relief aid or to support general operating expenses on the farm (e.g. recurring farm expenses, loan payments). See the Alliance’s list of emergency resources available for farmers in response to COVID19 and the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

Questions about the Resilience Fund can be directed to Garrett at garrett@ilstewards.org.

Application

Funding Priorities

Projects must be designed to improve the capacity and diversity of the local food supply and may include, but are not limited to:

  • Investments in on-farm infrastructure to increase scale, efficiency, and/or diversity of the operation.
  • Investments in technology and digital infrastructure to diversify sales channels or improve access to local food products. 
  • Supply chain infrastructure to transport, coordinate, aggregate, and distribute farm products from multiple sources.
  • Institutional or wholesale infrastructure to increase production, product packaging, or value-added processing.
  • Launch, expansion, or operational improvement of cooperative or multi-farm collaboration and other mutually-owned businesses. 

*See a full list of previously funded projects here: https://www.ilstewards.org/resilience-farmers/

Eligibility Considerations

  • Applicants must represent an independent family farm located in Illinois who serve local Illinois markets. 
  • Project leaders must have at least two years of farming experience. 
  • Farms must demonstrate a track record of experience relevant to the successful completion of the project. 
  • Farms must demonstrate environmental stewardship, financial viability, and social equity in their farming operation. 
  • Previous Resilience Fund awardees ARE eligible to apply. 
  • Farms can apply individually or in collaboration with other farms and organizations.
  • Applicants may submit only one application as primary applicant, but may be included as non-primary applicant in collaborative projects. 
  • These funds are not intended for emergency COVID-19 relief aid or to support general operating and recurring business expenses.

We will consider awarding grants to partially fund larger projects/purchases (e.g. a down payment for a truck would be an eligible request). We do not require applicants to have matching funds but describing other financial support for their project may increase their score in our assessment of financial viability. 

Special Consideration made for:

  • BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) farmers
  • Women farmers
  • Gender non-conforming, transgender, and non-binary farmers
  • Veteran farmers
  • Farmers living with a disability
  • Applicants who have NOT previously been awarded a Resilience Fund Grant

Timeline

  • Application Opens: Dec. 15, 2021
  • Application Closes: Feb. 15, 2022
  • Award Announcement: April 1, 2022
  • Funds Distributed: April 15, 2022
  • Project Completion Deadline: Oct. 15, 2022

Downloadable Resources

Questions about the Resilience Fund can be directed to Garrett at garrett@ilstewards.org.

Application

Resilience Fund Press Release

Additional Farmer Grants

Advocates for Urban Agriculture’s Capacity-Building Grant program was designed by and for Chicagoland farmers. Grants will range from $2,500-$20,000 and will empower Chicagoland urban farm businesses to expand their ability to produce and distribute locally grown food through increased operational support and capital projects. More information about this grant will be released this summer.

Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) Fund-a-Farmer Grants provides grants up to $2500 to qualifying farmers who need assistance in improving the welfare of their farm animals. Applications will open in October 2020.

American Farmland Trust is offering grants of up to $5,000 to help farmers 1) Improve farm viability; 2) Access, transfer, or permanently protect farmland; or 3) Adopt regenerative agricultural practices. To learn more about the eligibility of applicants and projects, visit www.farmland.org/brighter-future.