FARMS of E T R U F e h U t
I M PAC T I D A H O F U N D S U PPO R TS REGI O NA L F O O D S YS TEMS Words and Photos by Mike Gordon
he Sun Valley Institute for Resilience has been raising awareness about the importance of regional food systems through the Local Food Alliance since 2016. Early last year, the Institute launched the Impact Idaho Fund as a tool to take regional food systems to the next level. “Local food systems touch every area of our economy,” says Amy Mattias, program director for the Institute. “With the Fund, we reach beyond the farmer/buyer connection and invest in projects that cross the boundaries of impact, addressing food, water, land, energy, and community at once.” In the food sector, this means providing capital to strengthen and shorten the food supply chain, increase opportunities for farming families and regenerate natural resources. “When a borrower repays their recoverable grant, funds are recycled. With the same donor dollars, we can help multiple resilience projects,” says Amy. “We also provide technical support, setting businesses up for success, whether or not their project is funded.” To date, funds have been deployed to Itty Bitty Farms in Carey, Lookout Farm in Bellevue and Wild Spaces Farm in Glenn Ferry, who all serve the Wood River Valley region.
22 TASTE | Summer 2022
Sun Valley Institute staff members and the Knowles family during a site visit at Itty Bitty Farms.
ITTY BITTY FARMS At the Itty Bitty Farms store, the freezer is stocked with locally raised meats and fish. The fridge holds local dairy products and eggs. Shelves hold snacks and pantry staples alongside Itty Bitty Farms' own baked goods. With a door directly into their solar-heated greenhouse, there is almost always freshly grown micro-greens and other produce available too. Emily and Landon Knowles started Itty Bitty Farms in 2017, just one year after Adamsons, the only grocery store in Carey, closed its doors. Five years later, Itty Bitty Farms is an essential agricultural
and business anchor for Carey. Itty Bitty Farms received one of the first investments from the Impact Idaho Fund. With the funds, they increased production space, enhanced on-farm efficiency and purchased a freezer for their store. The Impact Idaho Fund investment set the stage for Itty Bitty Farms to increase their production of highvalue market crops while keeping fresh produce affordable and easily accessible to their neighbors. “People are telling us how glad they are that they can get local, affordable, high-quality food right in town,” says Emily.