Our Harvest Wins 30K Grant from Mainstreet Ventures

Mainstreet Ventures is a local non-profit who is fostering the growth of Cincy’s startup scene. "[Their] idea was, let's look at those startups who have a good idea, but they're in that weird gap where there's not enough revenue, or not enough product, ‘Kropp said. "So, many times, we see startups start, and they don't have a long enough runway…’

Main Street Ventures plans to give grants in three forms:

  • "Leap" funding grants of $10,000 to $30,000 for specific projects;

  • Matching grants of up to $100,000 to other non-profits that help local startups, also for specific projects;

  • Collective learning grants of up to $20,000 for events and activities to encourage new entrepreneurs and help develop science, technology, engineering and mathematics talent. Think meet-ups, business pitch competitions and hackathons.”

Read more about them here.

Read below for a summary of why they chose us as one of their awardees:

“Our Harvest Co-op began in 2012 with a focus on creating access to healthy, local food in a way that honors land and labor. Our Harvest farms two locations, aggregates product from 23 other local growers, and distributes through three channels: 1) Direct to consumer via our Weekly Harvest Box program. We have 15 different sites including Children’s Hospital. 300 people/families receive boxes of seasonal veggies + other local product add-ons each week. 2) Direct to consumer through our Food Access program. We work directly with community groups in food deserts and we partner with Produce Perks to double the produce dollar of SNAP (formerly food stamps) recipients. 3) Wholesale - we distribute to a variety of grocery stores and restaurants. We utilize growing practices that build up the biological activity of the soil which in turn improves soil fertility and increases nutrient content in our produce. We are a worker and community-owned co-op business that has no barriers to hiring.

During our 6th growing season (2017), we achieved positive EBITDA in this labor-intensive, capital intensive, low margin industry. Our significant debt load has allowed us to grow to this point is holding us back. We need to improve our balance sheet by reducing debt and increasing fixed assets so that we can have greater capacity to serve more customers. We need to have the infrastructure to take advantage of growth opportunities which include an expansion from Children’s main campus to their Liberty location, Christ Hospital, the VA, Xavier University, and Melink Corporation. EBITDA will increase over time.

Our Harvest has been an early mover and innovator in the local food system. We have established ourselves as an integral part of a rapidly changing and growing community participating in this evolving food system. We have participated actively with the Green Umbrella’s Local Food Action Team and in the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council. We host on-site meetings including a recent lunch with Main Street Farms. Our urban farm serves as the practicum site for Cincinnati State’s Sustainable Agriculture Management Certificate. We have been highlighted in a book by the USDA and Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis called ‘Harvesting Opportunity: The Power of Regional Food System Investments to Transform Communities.’”