Small Grants Awarded for Climate Resilience

October 10, 2023

Earlier this year, we introduced a new small grants program aimed at enhancing the preservation and stewardship of Marin County’s working landscapes. Today, we’re thrilled to announce the recipients of this first round of grant funding.

Responding to our community’s needs, this program was designed to support local farmers and ranchers in implementing forward-thinking strategies to address the evolving challenges of producing our region’s food and fiber.

For the program’s inaugural round we focused on Building Climate Resilience, financing up to $200,000 — applicants could request funding ranging from $5,000-$50,000 — for climate-smart agricultural practices that further water security, promote emissions reductions, and improve livestock welfare.

Watch the video above and hear MALT’s executive director, Lily Verdone, explain this new small grants program and the impact we can have on building local climate resilience.

There was a tremendous interest in the program, with 24 applications submitted, representing approximately $1,600,000 in total project costs. We are sincerely grateful and would like to thank all ranchers and farmers who submitted proposals, our donors who make this responsive grant program possible, and our partners who served on the review committee (more below). 

Throughout the past four weeks, members of the program’s review committee evaluated each proposal using our comprehensive selection criteria. The committee convened multiple times to fine-tune and harmonize the proposal scoring process, engaging in constructive discussions to ensure that the grant awardees were equitably selected.

This round of grant recipients are:

Corda Ranch$40,000

Just west of Novato, this ranch is working to improve the land’s forage quality, reducing the need for purchasing expensive and carbon-intensive feed. This grant will support aerial seeding of native, perennial grasses in areas that are too steep for conventional application methods. Native plants are more resilient to our changing climate and provide critical food sources, shelter, and habitat for native wildlife.

JJ’s Family Dairy – $40,000

A contributor to the Straus Family Creamery, this operation was recently selected by the Marin Resource Conservation District to partner on a carbon farm plan. To complement this work, this project will enhance the ranch’s water infrastructure, making it easier for the cattle to access water, increasing forage time while decreasing soil disturbance in both upland and lowland areas.

Red Hill Ranch $40,000

Through an innovative tree planting initiative, the ranch is working to create shaded areas for livestock and expand habitat for wildlife. Through additional fencing and water infrastructure, the ranch is also working to increase the options for the timing and duration of their animals’ grazing, maximizing the land’s vitality and ability to capture atmospheric carbon. 

Tomales Bay Pastures – $40,000

This project supports the purchase of an innovative chicken tractor. This mobile unit consolidates the environmental impact of laying hens and is more resistant to the increasingly extreme weather brought on by our changing climate. The solar-powered robotic system for feeding and egg collection will further the operations’ efficiency and improve the overall welfare of the egg production processes. 

Westview Petaluma Ranch – $40,000

To enhance the Sonoma Mountain Institute’s grazing operation, this project involves the addition of electric and woven wire fence, as well as water storage tanks and piping. These additional resources will allow the operation to more efficiently manage their herds and promote climate-beneficial grazing practices that help capture atmospheric, planet-warming carbon dioxide.

We look forward to reporting more about the impact of these grants in the coming months. It is hopeful to see such a tremendous amount of interest and commitment to building our local food system’s resilience to climate change. We’re grateful to be able to support the community’s entrepreneurial spirit and legacy of innovation. 

MALT’s next round of small grants will be available in the spring, aligned with our strategic pillars of preserving agriculture, protecting biodiversity, building climate resilience, and connecting our community. Stay tuned for more information as we refine the focus of this next round, tailored to the emerging needs of our agricultural community.

Special thanks, again, to all ranchers and farmers who applied for funds, our donors who make this responsive grant program possible, and our partners who served on the review committee: Kelsey Brewer, Marin Resource Conservation District; Kristan Norman, Natural Resource Conservation Service; Isaiah Thalmayer, Point Blue Conservation Science; and Vince Trotter, UC Cooperative Extension.

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