The Frontera Farmer Foundation, the local non-profit started by Chicago chef Rick Bayless and his wife Deann in 2003, on Monday announced $215,000 in grants to small farms throughout the Midwest.
Twenty-one farms in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan are the recipients of grants between $400 and $12,000, to help with operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I can’t think of a more crucial time to support family farmers. As grocery shoppers see disruptions in the national food supply chain, more people are turning to local sources for their food. We know our grant program will bolster the efforts of those hardworking farmers and make more good food available in the Chicagoland area,” said Bayless in Monday’s official announcement.
More than $2.5 million in funding has been awarded to date by the foundation, one of the only grant sources to farmers, according to the official announcement.
This year’s grants will go toward a variety of farm projects/programs including the purchase of new equipment, USDA poultry processing designations, pasture fencing and other improvements.
“All of this year’s grant winners said the money will help alleviate some of the troubles facing small farms, which rely on a customer base of restaurants and farmers’ markets,” the statement said.
Bayless helms nine Chicago restaurants including Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco, Lena Brava and Cruz Blanca Brewery and Taqueria.
A separate non-profit, the Rick Bayless Family Foundation, begun in 2017, awards grants each year in support of local theater companies and programming.