Persephone Brewing Company will soon be taking applications through their Kids in Agriculture Fund for school projects that connect children to growing food. Persephone seeded the fund with two per cent of their gross December sales (providing about $5,000) and other donations.
“It’s a small amount of money so we want to keep this process as simple as possible,” said Persephone owner Brian Smith. Smith said that he and his staff had heard from local schools that other grants rarely allow anyone to be paid, such as teachers or contractors, which can make it difficult to get projects off the ground.
Applications will open in February, and be reviewed by a small committee of staff members, with the goal of getting disbursements out quickly in time for spring. Possible projects might include planting schoolyard gardens, purchasing tools, or building greenhouses in schoolyards.
“We’re not being very specific about how the money can be used,” said Smith. “We’re trying to fill gaps that might exist with other funding sources.”
The Gibsons-based brewing company has also rolled out a new “Beer Farm Food Box” program which will run for 22 weeks starting May 11. Customers who pay $495 in advance ($22.50/week) will receive a weekly box of vegetables grown at Persephone and other local farms. An optional add-on allows people to order beer with their vegetables.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many people have signed up,” said Smith. Three quarters of the 40 available spaces were sold by the first week in January. “It’s a good sign that our community is looking to support local agriculture in this way and get local food. And it doesn’t hurt that we’re including beer in the box.”
Persephone is moving forward with a number of projects now that they no longer face the threat of having to move their brewing operations offsite. In November, the provincial government amended provincial Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) regulations to allow farm-based breweries to buy ingredients from other BC farms, rather than having to grow at least 50 per cent of their major ingredients on site.