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Grant Overview

Accepting applications from Friday, March 15, 2024, until Friday, April 12, 2024 at 4:30 PM.


Johnson County created the Community Food and Farm Grant Program in response to COVID-19’s impacts on our local food system. Funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Up to $350,000 is available for this grant cycle.

Johnson County has administered two cycles of the Community Food and Farm Grant. In the most recent cycle, Johnson County funded 15 of the 40 applications received, totaling around $285,000 in grant awards.

The pandemic impacted small farms, small food businesses, and households, affecting how food is grown, sold, and accessed. The following impacts show a need to both increase access to fresh food and support the small farms and food businesses who feed our community.

Impact on Small Farms
  • Increased costs
  • Loss of market channels
  • Lack of labor force
  • Lacked access to capital, resources, and risk management tools before COVID-19 which made impacts worse
Impact on Small Food Businesses
  • Periods of shutdown
  • Decreased revenue
  • Increased costs
Impact on Households
  • Increased food insecurity due to income loss and the closure of sites where residents eat each day
  • Low-income households more at risk of food insecurity 


Community-based Food

Food produced and distributed locally that enhances the health of environmental resources, celebrates culture, meets diverse food needs, and builds a network of community relationships.

Sliding Scale

Costs for products or services are varied and dependent on the customer’s ability to pay, often determined through annual income and/or total wealth.


Increase community-based food production, processing, and distribution capacity to strengthen food security in Johnson County, IA.

Grant Goals

Applicants must demonstrate how their project will meet at least one of the following grant goals.

  • Goal 1:  Farm and food businesses grow, process, cook, or distribute more community-based food
  • Goal 2:  Farm and food business workers and/or entrepreneurs develop skills to improve their businesses through education and technical assistance
  • Goal 3: Low-income communities have more opportunities to access community-based food 


  • Application entities must be a farm, food business, nonprofit, or individual who produces, processes, or distributes community-based food in Johnson County, IA or enables these activities.

  • Application entities must receive less than $1 million in gross income annually (sales, grants, and/or donations)

  • Projects must impact residents of Johnson County, IA

  • Projects must include local food product(s) grown or raised in Johnson County or East Central Iowa. In the application, you must name the source of your local food product. Local food sources include individual farm, farmers markets, food hubs, dairies/creameries, and meat and egg processors. Visit https://johnsoncountyiowa.gov/localfoods/findlocalfood to find a list of local food sources.

Funding Requests

Applicants can request $1,000 - $25,000. Smaller amounts than requested may be awarded. Grant awards are intended to fund projects that support businesses and meet grant goals. Grant awards are not intended to fund entire businesses. Funding requests must be supported by clear and detailed budgets. 

Eligible Costs

Projects could include but are not limited to: 

  • Farm or kitchen equipment and infrastructure to support production, processing, storage, and distribution of food
  • Business education and technical assistance costs, such as business coaching, hiring a consultant to develop a business plan, or food handling classes
  • Expenses that improve business operations such as accounting software or marketing materials
  • Business support costs including license fees, transportation, or childcare
  • Creation of new food distribution sites
  • Neighborhood projects that help people grow or access food
  • Costs that support adding SNAP/EBT, sliding scale, or other income-based payment options to businesses
  • Business mentorships

You can also review the list of past recipients to learn more about projects that have been funded.

Ineligible Costs

  • Individual or personal use only gardens
  • Bulk food purchases 
    • Funding is available for bulk food purchases through the Local Food Purchasing Assistance and Local Food for Schools programs. We encourage you to partner with organizations leading these programs. Please visit the website https://iowalfpa.org/ for more information.
  • Other costs may be found ineligible due to American Rescue Plan Act guidelines.


Johnson County encourages participation from communities who have been denied equitable access to fresh food and/or capital needed to start and sustain thriving farms and food businesses. This includes Black, Indigenous, multiracial, and other people of color, people who are LGBTQIA+, female identifying people, and people with disabilities. 

This lack of access has caused more severe economic impacts related to COVID-19. These communities best know how to address their needs, and we want to support their leadership and ownership across the food system.

Application Evaluation 

Review Committee

All applications will be screened for eligibility by Local Food staff. Eligible applications will be scored by a review committee. After scoring, the review committee will meet to discuss a final funding recommendation. Funding recommendations made by the review committee will have final approval from the Johnson County Board of Supervisors.

The review committee is made up of Local Food staff and Food Policy Council members. Food Policy Council members who have a conflict of interest are prohibited from serving on the review committee.

Criteria for Strong Applications

Grant Goals Alignment

Project activities and expenses demonstrate a strong ability to meet one or more grant goals.

Project Impact
  • Project has short- and long-term impacts, project will continue after use of grant funds.
  • Project is led or co-created by someone who is BIMPOC, LGBTQIA+, and/or a person with disabilities.
  • Project will increase or improve access to culturally relevant food and entity demonstrates ability to reach underrepresented cultures.
  • Project will build or strengthen at least one partnership.
  • Entity demonstrates a need for funding.
Project Readiness
  • Project can be completed within the grant timeframe (August 2024-August 2025) and application includes a feasible plan for how to do so.
  • Project is aligned with the entity's experience and capacity.
  • Applicant demonstrates ability to access all infrastructure and resources needed to complete the project.
  • All expenses are explained in the budget narrative and applicant includes where they received cost estimates.
  • All expenses are connected to project activities and impacts and would help the entity achieve the project and meet grant goals.

What to Expect if Awarded:

If awarded, applicant must:

  • Submit a W9 Form. This form requires a Tax ID or Social Security Number. The W9 allows the County to track and record how public funds have been spent. Also, it allows the IRS to track how payments have been distributed. View a W9 form at this link.
  • Agree to have their name and/or business advertised as a recipient of grant funds on Johnson County media.
  • Submit a mid-year (February 2025) and final (October 2025) report to Johnson County
  • Allow site visit for grant reviewers and the Board of Supervisors
  • Contribute 1-2 photos or videos for Johnson County media
  • Save all receipts and track expenses for purchases made with grant funds. Purchases must be tracked in the Community Food and Farm Grant Expense Table.


Deadlines may change. Awardees will be informed of all changes.

  • Application Opens: Friday, March 15, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Friday, April 12, 2024, at 4:30 PM
  • Recommendation meeting: Monday, May 20, 2024
  • Applicants notified of funding decision via email: June 2024
  • Contract development and execution: July 2024
  • Checks distributed: August 2024
  • Deadline to spend funds: August 2025

Application Information

Applications must be submitted online. Applications are available in English, Spanish, Arabic, and French. If you need the application translated into an additional language, please email [email protected].

Consider downloading the application questions below to review before starting the online application form.  

Download in English

1. Start Your Application 

To start an online application, create an account with an email address in Johnson County’s online portal.

To begin an application, click here. 

2. Resume Your Application.  

You can access saved and submitted applications in the online portal using this link. 

3. Review Your Application.

After submitting an application, you will receive an email confirming your submission. If you notice errors in your application, please contact [email protected]. Do not submit multiple applications.

4. Check Your Email

You will receive updates on your application on the email that you provide. Grant reviewers may also contact your email to request more information to assist with their review.


Application Clinics and Grant Writing Support

Application Clinics

Attend an application clinic to hear a presentation about the grant, learn how to write a strong application, and ask questions. All three clinics will have the same information.

  • Wednesday, March 20 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. on Zoom. Register here. Arabic, French, and Spanish interpretation will be available.
  • Thursday, March 21 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Dream City (611 Southgate Ave., Iowa City, IA 52240) in partnership with Emprendimiento Latino 5M. Spanish interpretation will be available. Snacks and childcare provided.
  • Wednesday, March 27 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the Center for Worker Justice (1556 S 1st Ave # C, Iowa City, IA 52240). Arabic and French interpretation will be available. Dinner and childcare provided.

Grant Writing Support

Grant writing coach, Sarah Blais, from Empowered Solutions Collective will host three informal office hours where applicants can drop in to receive support with their application and ask questions. Sarah is also available to support applicants via email and phone at  [email protected] and 563-260-6226.

  • Thursday, April 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Coralville Public Library Cafe (1401 5th St., Coralville, IA 52241).
  • Friday, April 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Center for Worker Justice (1556 S 1st Ave # C, Iowa City, IA 52240). Arabic interpretation will be available if needed.
  • Sunday, April 7 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Iowa City Public Library Meeting Room B (123 S Linn St, Iowa City, IA 52240). Spanish interpretation will be available if needed.


Past Recipients

Round 1 - $100,000 Awarded

In Round 1, 126 applications were submitted, and 74 were eligible. After careful review, scoring, and consideration, 9 applicants were selected to receive funding.

  • Center for Worker Justice, $5,000 to host educational workshops for immigrant entrepreneurs seeking to start or expand their food or farm businesses.
  • Echollective Farm, $15,000 for infrastructure and equipment to increase capacity to harvest and store vegetables 
  • El Azul, $10,000 to purchase a deli case and kitchen equipment to expand production and sales of prepared foods at their new Latino market.  
  • IC Compassion, $15,000 for the Global Food Project to purchase supplies and infrastructure to increase production and sales for gardeners 
  • Nam and Anna’s Garden, $8,500 to construct greenhouse infrastructure to increase vegetable production 
  • Over the Moon Farm and Flowers, $14,000 to construct a brooder space to increase production of Pekin duck. 
  • Poimen Bosko Foods, $15,000 for a mobile food trailer and kitchen equipment to expand their business  
  • Simon Bwayo, $2,500 to purchase a walk behind tractor and tiller implement to increase vegetable production 
  • Williams Topsoil, $15,000 to purchase supplies and equipment to expand chicken production 
Round 2 - $285,376 Awarded

In Round 2, 40 applications were submitted, and 36 were eligible. After careful review, scoring, and consideration, 15 applicants were selected to receive funding. 

  • Africando Foods, $25,000 for a refrigerated van to increase production and distribution of locally processed hot sauce and culturally relevant frozen greens.
  • Andale Cantina Inc. $25,000 for a food transportation van to support catering services  
  • Berry Basket Farm, $25,000 for irrigation infrastructure to address limitations during drought and expand berry production 
  • Black Diamond Halal Meats, $19,700 for a walk in freezer to increase capacity to process and store locally raised Halal meat for wholesale markets 
  • Buffalo Ridge Orchard, $20,000 for a forklift/bin stacker and large bins to increase storage of fruits and vegetables and support worker safety 
  • Camp Creek Organic Produce, $23,875 to construct a root cellar to increase crop storage
  • Da Flava Unit, $25,000 for kitchen supplies, equipment, and cold storage to support food production and sales at commissary kitchen and restaurant locations.
  • Eastern Iowa Young Farmers Coalition, $25,000 to support education and network building opportunities, strategic planning, and technical assistance for farmers applying to become approved to accept SNAP/EBT
  • Grimm Family Farm, $25,000 to construct a poultry processing facility to increase capacity to raise and process poultry for their farm and other local farms   
  • Iowa City Free Lunch Program, $6,842 for a freezer and supplies to process and store local produce for community meals 
  • Iowa Grown Market, $15,000 for a heated greenhouse to increase capacity to grow and store produce and plant starts 
  • Mama’s Kitchen, $14,525 for supplies, kitchen equipment, and marketing to expand production and sales at community events  
  • Short’s Family Farm, $3,560 to construct a hydroponic system to grow fresh lettuce year-round for restaurant partners 
  • Snacky Mini Mart, $11,874 for a food trailer and kitchen equipment to expand production and sales at community events  
  • Tangled Roots Farm, $20,000 for a cooler, construction of a wash/pack area, and greenhouse improvements to expand production and distribution of culturally relevant foods in Johnson County 



If you have questions, need assistance with the application, or need translation or interpretation services, please contact Johnson County Local Foods Staff at [email protected] or 319-688-5840.