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Virgin Islands Good Food Awarded $30,000 Grant to Support Farmer-Led Group

Virgin Islands Good Food awarded $30,000 grant. (Facebook photo)

Virgin Islands Good Food, a nonprofit dedicated to cultivating a thriving and just food system in the U.S. Virgin Islands, has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the Better Food Policy Fund, through a collective action fund of the Tides Foundation.

Virgin Islands Good Food received the grant to support its Territorial Agriculture Group (TAG) project activities in 2024, and the fund intends to renew this award for an additional $30,000 in 2025, according to the press release.

Virgin Islands Good Food and the Better Food Policy Fund recognize the importance of civic collaboration to effect better food policy. This unrestricted funding will enable Virgin Islands Good Food to continue to support the development of TAG – which is a dynamic coalition of farmers, advocates, and agricultural professionals dedicated to advancing food policy and system improvements in the Virgin Islands. TAG is predominantly farmer-led and committed to integrating accountability, equity, inclusive governance, and leadership into its efforts to build thriving markets and equitable food access for all Virgin Islanders, the press release stated.

TAG represents a partnership across several farming organizations, including over fifty farmers. Its members share a collective commitment to building a resilient and inclusive food system in the USVI. Through collaboration with partners like the Alaska Food Policy Council and the dedication of its members, TAG is poised to drive meaningful change and foster a healthier, more sustainable community, the release stated.

Since its inception, the Better Food Policy Fund has set its strategic direction in a participatory fashion that builds capacity for engagement and voice and helps ensure the fund aligns with the needs of food policy council stakeholders. Thus far, the fund has engaged 300 plus food policy council stakeholders to help co-develop the fund., it said.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Better Food Policy Fund to support our mission,” said Sommer Sibilly-Brown, executive director of Virgin Islands Good Food. “This grant will empower us to make a meaningful difference in the Virgin Islands, and further our commitment to agricultural growth.”

“We are thrilled to deepen our relationship and knowledge sharing with Virgin Island Good Food. Despite being 5,000 miles apart, we have much more in common than not. To support each other through reciprocal learning and sharing is an incredible opportunity to support farmers and agricultural growth across the territories and non-contiguous US,” Robbi Mixon, executive director of Alaska Food Policy Council said.

Representatives from Virgin Islands-based organizations serving farmers and agriculturalists also shared in the appreciation and recognition of the importance of the grant award that aims to build cohesiveness and alignment:

“I’m in TAG, representing We Grow Food, Inc. Now is the time we collectively work as one Virgin Islands in order to move our food system forwards in order to feed the people of the Virgin Islands. I know that grassroots organizations have always been in the forefront of moving and making positive changes in any community,” Benita Martin, co-chairperson of We Grow Food Inc.’s Future Development Committee on St. Thomas, stated.

“This partnership not only fuels our mission but also amplifies our dedication to fostering sustainable agricultural growth in the Virgin Islands. Together, we are poised to enact positive change and cultivate a future where food security and environmental stewardship thrive hand in hand,” Yvette Browne, a member of TAG and co-owner of Sejah Farm on St. Croix, stated.

Speaking about the importance of TAG, Nate Olive, president of Virgin Islands Farmer Alliance and owner/operator of Ridge to Reef Farm on St. Croix, stated, “It is a valuable resource for farmers and other observers on the periphery of agriculture for bulletin-board style discussion and sharing about issues that matter to us. One thing I like about the group is that no one owns the group as it is everyone’s fellowship group.  We originally came together as TAG in response to a government-sponsored farming competitor licensed in Florida that was imported to VI with the support of VI elected officials to compete with our local agricultural industry.” Olive added, “Today we continue to stand for fairness in our industry and demand the proper use of both federal and local taxpayer dollars to elevate locally owned farms as viable, competitive endeavors for the ultimate benefits provided to all Virgin Islanders.”


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