Episode 5 | T.I.M.E. Inc: Working With Urban Farming Grants and Microgrants for Farmers

Join us for GrantTalk‘s Episode 5, powered by GrantWatch, with host Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch and author of The Queen of Grants: From Teacher to Grant Writer to CEO! In this week’s episode, Libby speaks with LaGrand and Eric Elliott, two of the founders, (along with Dr. Cindy Ayers Elliott) of T.I.M.E. (To Improve Mississippi Economy).  Urban farmers by trade, the goal of this nonprofit is to bring and expand viable economic growth in urban areas that are considered to be underserved. Based in Jackson Mississippi, they are known to be the largest farm in the state of Mississippi.  

Today’s topics cover everything from their 68-acre urban farm to their Farm Academy, and the $12 million dollar project that will spread the love to 10 cities around the country. This nonprofit has the unique perspective of being both an outreach organization as well as granting funds to smaller nonprofits. T.I.M.E. is doing what they love and sharing a wealth of knowledge and funding.

68-Acre Urban Farm

T.I.M.E. wants to bring about sustainability in agriculture, especially to those communities of folks who are socially disadvantaged. Located in the heart of their community, they have a small Cow-Calf operation and grow a number of crops in both outside soil and in hothouses. On the farm, you’ll find five different varieties of kale, strawberries, Jamaican Hibiscus and pumpkins, and other seasonal crops. In addition, they open to the public several days a week, participate in farmer’s markets, and partner with local universities like Cornell, Virginia State Tech, and Virginia State University.

The Farm Academy and Youth Programs

They host Farm Academies for local youths. Although, some parents and adults attend these sessions as well because of the importance and value of the information shared. So, the goal now is to teach area kids and adults that farming is more than “just 1000 acres, a tractor, and a straw hat,” according to Eric Elliot. These classes touch on Animal Sciences and Horticulture. But, in a unique twist, they also focus on Marketing Know-how and Administration Techniques.

They also work with area 4H Clubs and Boys and Girls Clubs and local school districts and universities to encourage participation in learning the joy of growing food and how to run urban farms.

The Funded Becomes the Funder

T.I.M.E. has joined the ranks of those organizations that share the advantages of performing outreach services in their communities and also offer funding to others who share the same goals. The organization has a pilot program assisting urban farmers create agribusinesses, spread over 10 cities:

  • Boston, MA
  • Columbia, SC
  • Denver, CO
  • Houston, TX
  • Jackson, MS
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Little Rock, AR
  • Memphis, TN
  • Pittsburg, PA

Perhaps the best part of this program is that it teaches urban farmers how to enter the USDA system, get a farm number, get insurance, and understand human, financial, and human/capital risks. It clear, they want their urban farmers to know how to run their farms as businesses so they can thrive.

Community Based Operations (CBOs) who have agreements with local growers will receive up to $850K to share with their communities to train, provide support, and inspire growth and sustainability. T.I.M.E will also look into distributing microgrants directly to producers as time goes on. Overall, the total for this program is somewhere around $12 dollars.

What T.I.M.E. Looks for in Grant Applications:

The biggest takeaway from the perspective of this organization as it regards the grants they are giving is consistency. As a funder, they want to see the fruits of your labor, so to speak. The work a grant seeker does on the ground is the most important aspect of the project for the team at T.I.M.E.

To Conclude

So, tune in to this week’s episode of GrantTalk with Libby Hikind and Dina Ray and experience a grant recipient’s journey.