Monday, July 12, 2010

CSBA Member—Dedicated to Supporting Local Produce, Meat, and Dairy Farms

Chicago’s local organic home delivery service is awarded small business innovation research grant from USDA!

Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks, the service that brings the Farmer's Market to your door all year-round, has been awarded an $81,000 grant by the United States Department of Agriculture. Owner Irvin Cernauskas states, "We are honored to be recognized by the Small Business Innovation Research Grant Program as an innovative business that has the capacity to improve the health of people, farmers and the environment through our work.” Partnering with local sustainable farmers and the University of Illinois, Fresh Picks will use the grant to increase the fair trade supply of local food.

Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks, offers year-round home delivery of local and organic produce, meat, dairy products, eggs, and baked goods throughout the Chicagoland area. Customers can place orders online for the best selection of local organic foods, including the option for a Fresh Picks Box providing an assortment of the best seasonal produce. About 90% of our fresh food comes from dozens of sustainable farms in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, supplemented by organic produce from outside the region when local products are not available. Food is obtained from farms in close proximity to Chicago to keep food miles and greenhouse gases down, and freshness and nutrients up.

The Small Business Innovation Research Grant Program is very competitive, with only 15% of applications being awarded funding after review by an expert panel. The purpose of the Grant Program is to provide an opportunity for small businesses to submit innovative research and development projects that address important problems facing American agriculture and have the potential to lead to significant public benefit if the research is successful.

Along with taking the local sustainable food community to the next level, Fresh Picks aims to improve distribution of food into Chicago for local farmers. Co-owner Shelly Herman states, “With this project, we’ll encourage even more local organic food making its way to folks in the Chicago region. Our goal is to design ways to alleviate distribution bottlenecks so the many benefits of local food, principally to public health, the environment, and rural economies, can be increased and more broadly enjoyed.”


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