Grants

Eligibility, requirements, FAQ and application link

* THE APPLICATION WINDOW IS NOW CLOSED - THANKS TO ALL THAT APPLIED *

About Us

The Pine Cone Foundation (PCF) is a 501c3 organization based in the Bay Area with the mission of cultivating a better food future by supporting farming, ranching, fishing, aquaculture, and foodways in California. We are a private family foundation aiming to positively impact the security of our food supply chain in the face of climate change, discrimination, and rising costs. Our goal is to connect with and support future generations of stewards in our golden state. The organization was founded in 2015 to honor a beloved family member that passed away who loved nature, animals, and waterways, but above all, quality time outdoors and a great meal with loved ones.

We have established two endowments thus far with the Ecological Agriculture Center at Shone Farm and United Anglers of Casa Grande. In 2022, we are launching our annual micro-grant program to farmers, ranchers and fisheries, as well as aquaculture purveyors.

Funding Opportunity 

When it comes to foodways operations, the state of California is struggling with racial and gender inequity, inflation, real estate prices, recovering from the pandemic, and climate change. California foodways purveyors face a great deal of risk, which threatens the future of food security in the United States. Despite these challenges, people of all ages and backgrounds are still pursuing careers in these fields because they understand the value of a thriving food system and are committed to preserving our status as the breadbasket of America.

The Pine Cone Foundation micro-grant program seeks to support those pursuing long-term careers in agriculture, ranching, fishing, and aquaculture. To ensure that our grants are contributing to ending systemic inequity in access to foodways careers, we commit to providing a minimum of 50% of our grants to Black, Asian, Hispanic, Indigenous, and other people of color, as well as to female-identifying, non-binary, and trans purveyors. 

The PCF micro-grant application is open to established small California-based farms, ranches, fishing, and aquaculture operations that are looking to accomplish a specific project within one year. We are accepting applications from October 12th to November 7th, 2022. Two grants from $2,000 to $3,500 will be distributed this year. The winners will be contacted by email in early December and the funds will be released in late December.

Eligibility and Qualifications

  • Applicant must be 18+ years of age.
  • Applicant and the operation must be based in California.
  • Applicant must be the owner of the operation; if there are multiple owners, choose just one owner to represent the operation. 
  • Applicant’s operation must be an established business for 2+ years and have at least 1 year of sales.
  • Non-profit organizations are not eligible at this time.
  • Farms and ranches - no more than 100 acres in agricultural and grazing production.
  • Farms and ranches - land tenure (ownership, a lease, license, or other written agreement) for a reasonable time period will be required for projects that involve on-the-ground, permanent improvements. If tenure is less than 3 years, please be prepared to demonstrate in the application that the tenure is sufficient in relationship to the improvements being made or services being provided.
  • Fisheries and aquaculture - applicant’s operations should be small-scale or considered artisanal.
  • Fisheries and aquaculture - land tenure (ownership, a lease, license, or other written agreement) for a reasonable time period will be required for projects that involve on-the-ground, permanent improvements. If tenure is less than 3 years, please be prepared to demonstrate in the application that the tenure is sufficient in relationship to the improvements being made or services being provided.
  • Applicant is currently making a portion of their income from their farming, ranching, fishing, and aquaculture operations.
  • Applicant must have a specific project in mind with costs and labor calculated; project proposals should be geared toward a one-year completion period.
  • Applicant must plan to continue business in 2023.
  • Applicants must submit a headshot and operation photo with their application. We love to see the people and places for each application. This does not affect your eligibility or probability of receiving a grant.
  • Incomplete applications, or those not meeting the requirements stated above, will not be reviewed. 

Additional Details

  • Two grants of $2,000 to 3,500 will be awarded in December of 2022.
  • While these grants are open to purveyors of all races and gender identities, we believe in ensuring that at least half of those who receive grants identify as BIPOC, as well as womxn, nonbinary, and trans foodways folx, is an important step to resisting the systemic racism and sexism that has historically kept these groups from accessing financial resources in agriculture, ranching and beyond. Because there are BIPOC applicants who are women, nonbinary and trans, and vice versa, these commitments do not add up to 100% of all grants available.
  • There is no restriction on what type of products your foodways operation is producing other than your harvests are meant for human consumption.
  • We are not requiring any organic certifications or specific sustainability measures be in place.
  • If your project budget is larger than the PCF maximum grant bid of $3,500, you are eligible to apply, however, you must demonstrate in the application where the additional funding is coming from to make up the difference. If you do not have a plan in place at the time of submitting your application as to how you will raise the auxiliary funding needed to complete the project, we encourage you to present a project that is within the $2,000 to $3,500 range we are offering.
  • This program is designed to support those who are currently or are working toward financially supporting themselves through their foodways careers. Applicants who have auxiliary jobs to supplement their income are still eligible to apply as long as they receive some income from their foodways operation.
  • Applicants striving to launch a value-added product or multiple products under their operation’s name and with ingredients from their operation to increase revenue streams are welcome to apply. If you are launching a product that is not the same as the operation's name, please explain your reasoning in the project description of the application.
  • We are not offering grants to non-profits, those who volunteer their time or do not sell and distribute their harvests.
  • Staff and Board members of the Pine Cone Foundation are not eligible to apply.
  • Previous grant recipients are not eligible to apply.
  • No phone calls, please. If you have questions about the application or our organization, we welcome you to email us at admin@pineconefoundation.org.

Eligible Projects (include but are not limited to)

  • Paying capital costs associated with improving operations and ramping up production. Examples include: irrigation, fencing, refrigeration systems, stainless steel waterers, fishing equipment such as hook and line upgrades, processing tools or machinery needed to bring products to market, water tanks, tumbler/sorter, hoop house, net bags, floating cages, and greens dryer.
  • Replacing infrastructure or equipment that was lost or compromised from natural disasters.
  • Launching value-added products or starting new sales channels. Examples include: wholesale, CSA, delivery or subscription offerings.
  • Acquiring new equipment or making improvements to enhance sustainable practices or launching food access programs. Examples include: soil improvements, beekeeping equipment, creating habitats that sequester carbon or are beneficial to pollinators, and starting a community composting program or increasing food access for low-income and food desert communities.
  • We will not fund land purchases, new wells, consultants, administrative overhead, or marketing costs.

Participation Rules and Requirements

  • All applicants must use our Google Form to apply. No other submission process is available.
  • Land tenure (ownership, a lease, license, or other written agreement) for a reasonable time period will be required for projects that involve on-the-ground, permanent improvements. If tenure is less than 3 years, please be prepared to demonstrate in the application that the tenure is sufficient in relation to the improvements being made or services being provided. In these cases, documentation must be uploaded with the online application in a PDF format.
  • Grant recipients will be required to submit two reports upon receiving a PCF micro-grant.
    • May 2022 - a brief status report via Google Forms detailing progress toward goals and any changes to the original plan.
    • October 2023 - a final short written report detailing how the funds were used and if the intended outcome is taking shape.
    • Operation tours and in-person visits are an option for completing these status reports.
  • Grant recipients are required to spend the entirety of their grant before their final report is due in October 2023.
  • Savings accounts for later use are not eligible for these funds.
  • PCF will collaborate with some grant recipients to take photos at the location of their project and share their stories through our communications channels. 
  • We reserve the right to use the awardees' names, logos and photos on PCF’s website, social media platforms, and within marketing materials, for our public announcement of grant recipients and in efforts to recruit grant applicants in the future.
  • Please note, PCF’s grant is taxable income and all recipients are solely responsible for reporting it.

Evaluation Criteria

The application is designed to guide you through a simple narrative arc, telling us first about your current operation, then about your longer-term goals. The following questions ask you to tell us about the barriers and challenges you face in reaching those goals and how you will use this funding to help you move past or begin to address some of those obstacles. Successful applications will leave the review committee with a clear understanding of your operation at this time, the challenges you are facing, where the grant funds will be used, and how that use supports your operations and career benchmarks.

Note on Language

Though we encourage you to take time and care in writing your application, we will not be evaluating applications by the quality of the prose, but by the content of the proposal. Take advantage of the narrative questions to paint a picture of your operation, your personal and professional goals, and the challenges you face in reaching them. Feel free to write in whatever style that represents your voice in the application. For English as a second language applicants, we encourage you to apply and complete the application to the best of your ability.

We would like to acknowledge that it is unfortunate we are not currently able to offer PCF’s grant instructions or application in other languages. We are striving to be as equitable as possible, but we do not have the team or resources in place at this time to provide multilingual materials or assemble a review committee that speaks multiple languages. In 2023 and beyond, we will be improving our operations to be more inclusive.

Review Committee

In 2022, all completed and eligible applications will be reviewed and evaluated by the foundation’s Board of Directors. Our Board is made up of a BIPOC team ranging in ages from 18 to 77 with diverse career backgrounds and deep roots in California. We are in the process of assembling an advisory board, however, we will not have this group solidified until 2023. Each application will be reviewed, a short-list of 10 finalists will be compiled and the Board will select 2 winners from that list based on the aforementioned requirements and the following criteria.

Three Main Evaluation Criteria

Goals
These funds are designed to help recipients get closer to achieving their goals in scaling or improving their operations. We are looking to help build resilience during these troubling times. A strong application will illustrate how the use of these funds will contribute to accomplishing the milestone(s) outlined in the application.

Challenges and Barriers
Priority of selection will be given to applicants who can articulate how these funds will be used to address a particular challenge they are facing in moving their business forward and the results they expect to see with this funding. Robust applications will illustrate the cause and effect of what PCF’s grant funding would allow them to do for their operations and overcome the challenges they are confronting.

Need
We will prioritize applicants for whom the grant money will make a significant difference in their financial ability to meet their goals and improve operations. It is for this reason that we request information regarding operating expenses and gross revenue within the application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have grant instructions and an application in Spanish?

We would like to acknowledge that it is unfortunate we are not currently able to offer PCF’s grant instructions or application in other languages. We are striving to be as equitable as possible, but we do not have the team or resources in place at this time to provide multilingual materials or assemble a review committee that speaks multiple languages. In 2023 and beyond, we will be improving our operations to be more inclusive.

What kind of products do I need to be growing/raising/fishing to be eligible?

There is no restriction on what type of products your foodways operation is producing other than your harvests are meant for human consumption.

Is there an age limit to apply for these grants?

Yes, applicants must be at least 18 years old to be eligible for this funding.

I am a part-owner of a cooperatively owned farm business, is my farm eligible to receive a grant?

These grants will be given to individual owners. Individuals who own parts of a cooperative operation are eligible to apply and may put their funding toward projects, but the cooperative must pick an individual owner to represent the operation on the application.

Are these grants open to purveyors of all races and genders?

Equity is essential to Pine Cone Foundation's work. These grants are not designed to exclude anyone but are designed to recognize that not all people interested in foodways careers are starting from equal access historically and presently to similar agricultural financial resources. While these grants are open to all races and gender identities, we believe in ensuring that at least half of those who receive grants identify as BIPOC, as well as womxn, nonbinary, and trans foodways folx, is an important step to resisting the systemic racism and sexism that has historically kept these groups from accessing financial resources in agriculture, ranching and beyond. Because there are BIPOC applicants who are women, nonbinary and trans, and vice versa, these commitments do not add up to 100% of all grants available.

I have a hand-shake or verbal agreement to use the land and/or equipment for my operations, can I still apply?

Yes, but please present a project that is not tied to permanent infrastructure that can’t be moved or used in the event you are unable to remain using the land or equipment in the long term. We ask that you demonstrate in your application that your project has flexibility and some longevity (i.e. purchases or investments made can move with you if you need to seek a new arrangement.)

My project budget exceeds PCF’s maximum grant bid, can I still apply?

Yes. If your project budget is larger than the PCF maximum grant bid of $3,500, you are eligible to apply, however, you must demonstrate in the application where the additional funding is coming from to make up the difference. If you do not have a plan in place at the time of submitting your application as to how you will raise the auxiliary funding needed to complete the project, we encourage you to present a project that is within the $2,000 to $3,500 range we are offering.

Do I have to have organic certifications or sustainability measures in place to apply?

No. We are keenly aware that the state’s policies around organic certifications create significant hurdles for most operators and as a result, we are not making it an eligibility requirement. However, we are enthusiastic about operations that are run sustainably to enhance and conserve natural resources. If you can illustrate how you currently implement or plan to implement sustainable practices and/or ethics it will contribute to the strength of your application.

Why does PCF request information regarding operating expenses and gross revenue?

One of our three main criteria in evaluating applications is need. We will prioritize applicants for whom the grant money will make a significant difference in their financial ability to meet their goals and improve operations.

Are hydroponic/aquaponic producers eligible for this funding?

Yes.

Are grants available to foodways operations outside of California?

No.

Why do I need to submit photos with the application?

We love to see the people and places for the application. This does not affect your eligibility or probability of receiving a grant. Moreover, if the applicant is selected, their name and photos will be included in a public announcement of grant recipients on PCF’s website, social media platforms, and marketing materials, so having photos on hand will streamline this process for us.

What is the timeline for when I have to spend the money if I receive a grant?

Final reports for the 2022 grant season are due in October of 2023. We require that you will have used the funds by that time and we would like to know how the project went and if goals are on their way to being met.

I work out of a location that is owned by a city/park district or the state as a volunteer, am I eligible to apply?

At this time we are not supporting community or school garden projects run by volunteers. Individual farmers, ranchers, fisherfolks or aquaculture purveyors who founded and manage a for-profit project and are using their work to support themselves financially by selling their harvest may apply. Please note, that non-profit organizations are not eligible at this time.

I want to use the grant funds to launch a value-added product to enhance revenue streams, can I apply?

Yes, as long as the majority of ingredients are sourced from your operation. If you are launching a product that is not the same as the operation's name, please explain your reasoning in the project description of the application.

Value-added products are raw products that have been modified or enhanced to have a higher market value and/or a longer shelf life. Some examples include fruits made into jams, meats made into jerky, seaweed made into seasoning, and tomatoes and peppers made into salsa.

If I received Pine Cone Foundation funding in previous years can I receive one again?

We are not currently offering grants to those who have received funding in the past.