by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor

The Allen Foundation of Midland has awarded an $84,448 grant to DeVries Nature Conservancy to build upon the early successes of DeVries’ Healthy Initiative by adding critical capacity in terms of staff expertise and infrastructure.

The goal of DeVries’ Healthy Initiative is to strengthen the critical foundations necessary to support the availability of healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables to vulnerable citizens in Shiawassee County through improvements in nutrition education and access to local markets. Over the past two years, DeVries has provided both in-class and field trip visits to over 31 Project Head Start classrooms and parents, focusing on basic nutritional concepts and hands-on experiences in the DeVries garden. In addition, a mid-week farm stand was created at DeVries to expand access to local produce for shoppers who are unable to attend the weekend farmers’ markets. By adding the convenience of accepting a variety of food assistance payment options, such as Bridge Cards, Double Up Food Bucks, and WIC Project Fresh, the farm stand offers more purchasing power for low income families.

The latest grant, which builds on the Allen Foundation’s original $21,310 grant in 2014, leverages the early successes of the initiative by providing critical funding for expanded vegetable production and the transformation of the on-site market into a mobile farm stand.

“We are honored by the continued commitment of the Allen Foundation to our visions of creating a community-based, sustainable food system in Shiawassee County,” said DeVries Executive Director Ken Algozin. “This generous grant is an investment into the long-term sustainability of DeVries’ Healthy Initiative and will provide the resources necessary to ensure that nutritious and affordable locally-grown food is accessible to everyone. DeVries Nature Conservancy’s commitment to supporting a healthy community by strengthening the local food system is a natural extension of Jack and Fran DeVries’ vision: to create a place where the community thrives.

Established in 1975 by agricultural chemist William Webster Allen, the Allen Foundation makes grants available to projects that benefit human nutrition in the areas of education, training, and research.

DeVries Nature Conservancy Awarded Substantial Grant was last modified: July 18th, 2016 by Karen Elford