Applications for LEAFF are now open!

LEAFF 2024 for Blog

This program offers a pathway to sustained wholesale market access for emerging farmers in Minnesota. With state funding and support from donors, farmers are compensated with market rate prices for over 100 different crops, including many that are culturally relevant to Asian and African communities. The produce supplied by farmers in the program is then donated to hunger relief organizations serving the Twin Cities and beyond.

Our LEAFF program is making waves as a strategy to invest in climate-smart practices, as illustrated by our inclusion in Minnesota’s Climate Action Plan. To be eligible for federal implementation grants through the EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program, projects must be described in an applicant’s Priority Climate Action Plan, the applicant in this case is the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. LEAFF being identified as a near-term, high-priority, implementation-ready measure to reduce climate pollution is validation of something we know to be true – low-barrier-to-entry markets provide farmers, especially those who have faced historic disinvestment, with an opportunity to reduce on-farm food waste, shorten food supply chains, and support communities in need who are food insecure and more likely to experience hardships due to the negative effects of climate change. 

Recognizing that every farm business is unique, we’ve optimized the LEAFF program for the 2024 season to include three tiers. This modification helps us to make the program scalable and offers a pathway to real, sustainable market access opportunities. Of these changes, Farm Programs Director Josh Bryceson says “Structuring the program with a tiered approach allows us to quickly identify technical assistance needs to support farms on the path to securing reliable growing contracts.”

  • Tier one is designed for farmers with growing experience but little to no wholesale experience or previous contract fulfillment rates under 60%. Participants in this tier are eligible for up to $5,000 in sales during the growing season. 
  • Tier two is designed for farmers who completed level one or previously had at least 90% contract fulfillment rate. Participants in this tier are eligible for up to $7,500 in sales during the growing season. 
  • Tier three is for farmers with established wholesale contracts with The Good Acre and allocates 10% of their overall contract as a flexible fund. Example: A farmer has a $15,000 contract and $3,000 is for beets but half of their crop fails. They also have $1,500 in excess tomatoes. Rather than lose $1,500 in sales and waste food, they can sell their tomatoes through this risk mitigation fund and the tomatoes will then be donated to a hunger relief partner. This tier addresses that produce farmers do not have access to crop insurance and they often grow more produce as a way to mitigate risk. 

If you’re a farmer looking to establish a solid foundation for your business and expand your reach, LEAFF might be the perfect opportunity for you. You can head to the LEAFF page of our website to apply before our February 19th deadline. 

It is important to note that the number of farmers who can participate in LEAFF is contingent on available funding. This season we are relying on a $300,000 appropriation from the state of Minnesota with no more guaranteed support after that. To keep the program going, we need more ongoing funding to expand the number of farmers who can benefit from this program, and test pilot projects in other parts of the state. If you’re passionate about supporting local farmers and want to help us secure more funding for LEAFF, please click here and tell us why you think this program should be invested in. If you’re interested in getting more involved in LEAFF advocacy, reach out to our Director of Communications & Government Affairs Nikki Warner directly at [email protected]. LEAFF is more than a program, it’s an opportunity to cultivate success and make a positive impact on our local food system. Look for more LEAFF updates from us in the weeks to come! 

Key Dates:

  • Application Deadline: Monday, February 19th
  • Notification of Acceptance: Friday, February 23rd

If you have any questions or need assistance with your LEAFF application, feel free to reach out to our Farm Program Specialist, Xiong Thao at [email protected]

 

 

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