The Austin Chronicle

Austin Food & Wine Alliance Announces Grant Winners

By Virginia B. Wood, January 7, 2013, 3:25pm, On the Range

The Austin Food & Wine Alliance's inaugural grants will help fund the first Texas apple orchard using organic practices, support a program raising heritage breed hogs and an initiative to provide local organic foods to low income families, and underwrite a documentary to teach Texas high school students about raising beef from pasture to plate.

AWFA's grant program is the first in the nation to provide support for culinary innovation and community value on the part of chefs and restaurateurs, farmers and ranchers, food artisans, winemakers, brewers, and distillers, as well a culinary schools and food-focused non-profits. The new non-profit received 30 grant applications in the fall and was able to double its original grant funding projections to a total of $20,000 through community partnerships with Whole Foods Markets, Maker's Mark Bourbon, FreshPoint Produce, and the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards plus the great success of two large fundraising events, Live Fire! at the Salt Lick Pavilion and Wine & Swine at Pioneer Farms. The grant selection committee awarded three grants and also chose to recognize six other initiatives as "honorable mentions."

AWFA 2012 Grant Winners

Argus Cidery (Austin), founded by Wes Mickel, is the first American Hard Cider crafted in Texas from apples produced by Texan growers. The $10,000 grant will be used to plant a test orchard in Dripping Springs for experimentation of new apple varieties and rootstocks not grown in Texas, and will be the first Texas apple orchard using organic practices. The orchard, which will be open to the public for picking as well as to supply local restaurants, will be for educational purposes to carry on the apple growing tradition in Texas since many apple growers are leaving the business.

Tecolote Farm (Manor), a 20-year-old organic farm owned by David and Katie Pitre, has the longest-running CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)program in Texas. The Pitres will use the $5,000 grant for two projects - a pilot program to humanely raise endangered heritage breed hogs on pasture and supply its pastured pork to the Austin community; and to subsidize and deliver weekly CSA baskets filled with local and organic vegetables and heritage pork to low-income, underserved families in Austin, uniquely providing access to fresh foods.

Connally High School Culinary Arts Department (Pflugerville), led by Chef Mike Erickson, the Connally High School Culinary Arts program is the first of its kind and offers real life experiences while building practical skills in the foodservice and culinary field. The students have created a five-episode cooking show called Cooking with Connally: Where You Become the Chef and have won numerous awards and cooked at the James Beard House in New York City. The $5,000 grant will be used to produce a documentary film to teach students across the state about the process of raising beef in Texas from pasture to plate. Students in the culinary arts program will produce the documentary and gain the opportunity to interact with ranchers, beef experts, chef and restaurants on the BBQ Trail to the highest-end steak houses.

AFWA 2012 Honorable Mentions

Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria (Austin), an artisan charcuterie producer, hopes to receive funding for regulatory compliance to provide local chefs with fresh, never frozen, local meat, which is currently not available to them, and to expand its cured meat operation allowing increased wholesale to chefs and restaurants. They've also completed a successful Kickstarter drive for the final financing needed to open their retail store.

The Homegrown Revival (Austin), a nonprofit providing education and experiences connecting consumers to the local food economy, seeks funding to build an interactive platform with a documentary, photos and individual outreach, to educate consumers on farm-to-table sourcing, purchasing, and preparing locally grown food.

Skinny Lane Farm (Elgin), a boutique, family-owned vegetable farm started in Spring 2011 using sustainable techniques and certified organic standards, hopes to gain support in completing a greenhouse and vegetable storage facility that will allow increased production to start a CSA program, supply area farmers markets, and local restaurants. In addition, the farm will host a professional chef program for a three-week "Farm to Table" hands-on experience through the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.

River Oaks Elementary (Pflugerville)/Recipe for Success Foundation, a Houston-based nonprofit providing effective, experiential learning programs that change the way children appreciate, understand, and eat their food, is seeking support on behalf of River Oaks Elementary for funding to train teachers, provide culinary and gardening classes for approximately 100 children, and to build a school garden as part of its Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ program.

Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery (Austin), Texas' first worker-owned vegan bakery, hopes to gain funding to purchase equipment that will allow increased production to expand the business and meet demands for vegan-baked products.

Farm City, State (Austin), a feature-length documentary highlighting Austin farmers, restaurants and nonprofits who focus on local food, and explores the present state and future goals of the local food community. Filmmaker David Barrow seeks funding to complete the film that will educate and inspire people in any city to create their own local and sustainable food community.

For more information about the AFWA, visit, call 512.348.6847. Stay up to date with Austin Food & Wine Alliance happenings on Facebook and Twitter.

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