As part of our Lifting the Veil series, originally shared in summer 2024, we’ve been talking honestly about the realities that we and other similar, small-scale farmers and community organisations are faced with when trying to lead food system change.

We think it’s really important our community knows the challenges we face so they can understand how to best support us make this place thrive, and to make our work advocating for food system change more effective and wide reaching.

This is part 2: Grant Funding Challenges

We have had, and continue to have – support from some great grant funders, but the grant funding system itself is also under immense pressure. As community needs have increased, so have the needs of charities to serve them. As a result funders are massively oversubscribed and there just doesn’t seem to be enough to go around.

For us specifically, the trend of the last 4 years has been that almost two thirds of our successful grant applications were only partially funded. And to an average value of just 50% of the request!

While we’re proud of being able to achieve a lot on a small, lean budget (thanks to wonderful volunteers and a supportive community network), when already lean budgets are further squeezed, viable operations become untenable.

Additionally, most available grant funds out there are project based and short-term in nature. Priority and preference is for projects that are new, rather than ongoing, and core operating costs or wages are often ineligible for funding. This is also not a funding model that fits well with farming which is so heavily impacted by weather and growing conditions.

With this much adversity common in the grant funding environment these days we are looking to move our funding strategy away from some of these high-risk, low-return contestable grants.

We’re aiming to further diversify our funding model as a key feature in cementing our financial resilience. It’s a not a change that will happen overnight, but we are optimistic that with consistent effort in this space, we’ll be in stronger position in a couple of years time.

Investment from our local community and organisations will be a critical piece of the puzzle to help keep Kelmarna thriving and delivering meaningful impacts.

We launched our ‘Friends of Kelmarna’ Membership scheme with this in mind. It’s one of the most powerful ways to be part of our mission through a recurring monthly or annual membership. By joining this scheme you give us hope that the future can be one of collaboration and strength, working together to make our goals a reality. And we offer this supporters membership via a sliding scale pricing structure, so you can choose the rate you feel you can afford. Find out more here.

There are opportunities for businesses to get involved too. We know there are lots of businesses who are wanting to do all they can to help fight climate change and support their communities.  We are seeking like-minded businesses who share our values and vision for a sustainable and climate-resilient food system for Aotearoa to partner with us. We welcome not just financial sponsorship, but your professional expertise and experience too. Find out more here.

Read on for Part 3: More about Soil Health