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Grant Overview

Accepting applications from Friday, September 22, 2023 until Friday, October 27, 2023 at 4:30 PM. 

How to Login to the Online Grant Portal

You can also read this step-by-step guide: How to Login to the Community Food and Farm Grant Portal


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 $200,000 is available for this grant cycle.

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 



A region where there is a flow of food from where it is grown to where it is eaten. There are food and farm businesses found in East Central Iowa and nearby counties who produce food that feeds Johnson County residents. These businesses are all a part of the Johnson County foodshed.

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 


Farms, food businesses, nonprofits, and individuals who produce, process, or distribute community-based food in Johnson County, IA OR enable these activities are eligible.

  • Projects must impact residents of Johnson County, IA
  • Projects must include at least one local food product grown or raised  in the Johnson County foodshed (see definition above). In the application, you must name the source of your local food product. Local food sources include individual farms, 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.
  • Project entities must receive less than $1 million in gross income annually (sales, grants, and/or donations)

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 the grant goals listed below. 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: 

  • Equipment and supplies for growing, processing, and distributing food
  • Creation of new food distribution sites
  • Neighborhood projects that help people grow or access food
  • Help with business plans, marketing, grants, food license applications
  • Business support (administrative fees, legal, education, transportation, and childcare costs)
  • Adding income-based payment options to your business (SNAP/EBT or sliding scale)
  • Business mentorships

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 

All applications will be reviewed and scored by Johnson County staff and a committee of members from the Johnson County Food Policy Council. Scores will be used by the reviewer committee to create a funding recommendation presented to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

 Applications will be scored based on the following criteria:

  • Grant Goals Alignment
  • Project Impact
    • Project increases equity in the food system
    • Project strengthens or builds partnerships
    • Project has short and long term impacts
    • Applicant has demonstrated funding need
    • Project impact is proportional to amount of funds requested
  • Project Readiness
    • Applicant has relevant/necessary experience or capacity
    • Project is achievable and needed infrastructure/resources are identified
    • Budget is clear and detailed
    • Project has a reasonable timeline that is within expenditure deadlines


If awarded, applicant must:

  • Agree to have their name and/or business advertised as a recipient of grant funds on Johnson County media
  • Submit a mid-year (August 2024) and final (February 2025) report to Johnson County
  • Allow site visit for grant reviewers and the Board of Supervisors if requested 
  • 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.


Award announcement and other deadlines may change. Eligible applicants will be informed of all changes.

  • Application Deadline: Friday, October 27, 2023 at 4:30 PM 
  • Announcement of Awards: February 2024
  • Deadline to Spend Funds: December 31, 2024


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

Come to a clinic to learn more, ask questions, and receive help. 

Community Food and Farm Grant: Business Plan and Budgeting Workshops

  • Hosted by Emprendimiento Latino 5M and South of 6 Business District
  • Friday, September 29 | Dream City, 611 Southgate Ave., Iowa City.

Community Food and Farm Grant: Application Clinics

  • Monday, October 2, 5:00-6:30 p.m | Hosted virtually via Zoom. Register here. Arabic, French, and Spanish interpretation will be available
  • Thursday, October 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m. | Center for Worker Justice, 1556 S 1st Ave #C, Iowa City, IA 52240. Arabic, French, and Spanish interpretation will be available.
  • Wednesday, October 11, 5:30-7:30 p.m. | Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., Iowa City, IA 52240. In partnership with the Multicultural Development Center of Iowa. 


2023 Grant Recipients

Johnson County received 126 applications for the $100,000 available in the first grant cycle. After careful review, scoring, and consideration, the Food Policy Council and Local Foods Staff, with approval from the Board of Supervisors, selected the following farms, food businesses, and nonprofits to receive Community Food and Farm Grant funding:

El Azul

El Azul, located in North Liberty, was awarded $10,000 to purchase equipment to process, store, and display local produce and meat at their new Latino market.

IC Compassion

IC Compassion, located in Iowa City, was awarded $15,000 for the Global Food Project to purchase supplies, equipment, and infrastructure to increase production capacity, specifically for gardeners that will be growing for sale next year and in the future.

Williams Topsoil

Williams Topsoil, located in Solon, was awarded $15,000 to purchase supplies, equipment, and infrastructure to increase their capacity to raise and sell chickens and increase the amount of meat produced locally.

Poimen Bosko Foods

Poimen Bosko Foods, located in Swisher was awarded $15,000 to build or purchase a mobile kitchen/food trailer and equipment to expand their business and increase the amount of meals produced locally.

Center for Worker Justice

Center for Worker Justice, located in Iowa City, was awarded $5,000 to host educational workshops for immigrant entrepreneurs seeking to start or expand their food or farm businesses.

Echollective Farm

Echollective Farm, located in Mechanicsville, was awarded $15,000 for infrastructure and equipment to increase their capacity to harvest and store local foods, expand the number of weeks of food production and sales, and to fund professional development opportunities for farm workers.

Nam and Anna's Garden

Nam and Anna’s Garden, located in Iowa City, was awarded $8,500 to construct greenhouse infrastructure to extend the number of weeks that they can grow and sell food and to increase access to ethnic/Asian fruits and vegetables.

Over the Moon Farm and Flowers

Over the Moon Farm and Flowers, located in Coggon, was awarded $14,000 to purchase equipment and infrastructure to increase their capacity to raise and produce culturally significant Pekin duck.

Simon Bwayo

Simon Bwayo, located in Iowa City, was awarded $2,500 to purchase tilling equipment to increase his production capacity.



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.