Local food non-profit awards grants to farmers market vendors

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, July 19, 2022

SALISBURY — Three farm-based businesses were awarded grants of $500 each this past weekend to pursue growth opportunities and expand product range.

The funding, provided by the Robertson Foundation, was dispersed by Rowan County’s food non-profit Bread Riot at the Salisbury Rowan County Farmer’s Market. The organization’s board arrived at 10 a.m. promptly to shake the hands of each recipient, each one having applied for the grant in April. The application was an open process that let the businesses explain, in their own words, how each would use the assistance.

One of the recipients, a baking company out of Salisbury specializing in a wide-range of zucchini bread, is focusing on expanding product range and overall growth of the business.

“We want to cultivate a healthy experience with zucchini bread,” said Just About the Bread co-CEO Hazjel Cortlandt. “The beauty of it is expanding on a base product.”

The coconut and carrot flavors are the most popular varieties. The bread also includes ingredients of rich cocoa, with a chocolate chip variety and a double chocolate zucchini bread. They also offer gluten-free and vegan options.

The business was established in 2020 and, according to the CEOs, has done well with sales since. Its organic baked goods can even be found at the Caribbean Island Café on West Innes Street.

Kimberly Cortlandt, co-CEO and Hazjel’s wife, said receiving the grant was exciting because it has been the first time the company has applied for funding.

Bread Riot President Dottie Hoy approached Liberty Farm, of Cleveland, about applying for funding. The company is looking to purchase a commercial grade mixer for their goat milk farm.

Owner Madison Johnson, who began selling soaps from her goats’ milk at the age of 17, said this investment would make it easier to increase batch production.

“We opened in 2019 just selling soap and lotions,” said Johnson. “This summer we’ve opened the creamery.”

According to her, the tuscan garlic spread is a favorite of customers. The goats’ milk is also used to make lip butters, lotion and the original soaps.

While the grants are mostly being used to expand equipment and variety, China Grove florist Big Dog Flowers plans to use the $500 for its class in winter on how to force plant tulip bulbs. According to founder Sally Mabry, who operates the flower garden on her own, the grant will help her order enough supplies for each student to start their own gardening experience. She even gifted the Bread Riot board with a bouquet of summer florals from her business Saturday.

Board member CJ Peters said it is crucial to support local growers as it benefits the economy of the county and the health of the community.

“It’s important to eat local because it’s sourced from our environment and we know where it comes from,” he said. “These people care about what they’re feeding you.”

He also explained that this was not the first time Bread Riot has partnered with a foundation to award grants. By supporting local businesses, it grows the economy and helps replenish the funds to continue assisting farmers.

Hoy went on to share that presenting grants to local growers is wonderful because it helps continue Bread Riot’s mission of supporting local businesses and ensuring the community always has access to fresh, homegrown produce and products.