When Jenna Weiler worked on a small organic farm, she and her fellow farmhands often brainstormed about ways to get more people excited about vegetables. One day, in the bean field, they started joking about getting tattoos that would help them determine if the beans were long enough to pick. That joke gave Weiler the idea for Tater Tats, temporary vegetable tattoos that would motivate kids (and adults) to eat their veggies — and learn more about where their food comes from.
In 2014, Weiler raised seed money via Kickstarter, planted the concept with an illustrator, and watched as Tater Tats grew. Small shops and nonprofits across the country began picking them to sell and share. To further her mission of supporting sustainable agriculture, Weiler gives 10 percent of sales back to small farms and nonprofits invested in healthy food projects. Since 2015, Tater Tats has given 48 grants — more than $20,000 — to farms and innovative projects all over the country.
“This year over 100 folks applied. We gave away 15 good food grants, a total of $8,500, to an exciting group of farms and healthy food projects,” she says. “We are very excited to announce this year's good food grantees: small sustainable farms from around the country and a few innovative food projects moving the sustainable food world forward.”
Tater Tats’ latest round of grants include Farmshare Austin, a 10-acre teaching farm in Texas that increases food access, teaches new farmers, and preserves farmland. In Washington, D.C., Food Talks DC is an evolving online media platform for people of color and their food narratives, stories, and perspectives. In Chicago, The Urban Canopy offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, compost club, outdoor/indoor farm, and, in partnership with the City of Chicago, multiple farmers markets providing fresh, organic produce at an affordable price in areas considered food insecure.
Among Michigan grant recipients, Boyne City’s Spirit of Walloon Farm and its all-female staff grow thousands of pounds of fresh produce year-round in seven unheated four-season greenhouses and one heated transplant greenhouse. Tortoise and Hare Farm offers CSA shares in Muskegon.
“The Sovengard matched our grant to Tortoise and Hare Farm. We've also had a few other businesses join us in matching these grants,” Weiler notes. “The Sovengard, Sweetgreen, and The Little Fleet are a few who partnered with us to match a grant to a small farm.”
A volunteer with Wormies.
Closer to home, Wormies, a Grand Rapids-based, community-oriented, vermicompost subscription service, collects food scraps from residents and businesses to recycle into nutrient- and microbial-rich fertilizer.
“I chose Wormies because I think soil and how were dealing with our waste is important. It is a local business meeting a need as Grand Rapids does not have a compost pick-up service. I liked the commitment to reducing food waste and doing soil restoration,” Weiler says. “The future of farming is really making sure that we are taking good care of the soil.”
Photos courtesy Tater Tats.