Now that you’ve applied for a grant, you might be wondering what you can be doing until you hear back or how to better prepare for next year’s applications.
After having collaborated in six successful USDA grant partnerships, we, the Farm 2 Fact’s team, know the hard work of the application, thrill of submission, and feelings of accomplishment in each step of the work.
Consider acting on the following 4 suggestions over your market’s season to gain powerful knowledge that will enhance your next grant application.
1. Collect Data
Are you aware of how many visitors you have on average throughout your market’s season? Do you know where the majority of visitors are visiting from or what transportation they used to get to your market? How about SNAP usage and vendor sales? It’s data like this that can improve your grant applications year after year. Factual information actively proves the difference your market makes inside and outside your community.
2. Do Some Research
If you are unsure of your title as a ‘scientist’, don’t be. All it means to be a social scientist is laid out for you below. Design and act on your research by doing the following.
- Start with a question you want answers for
- Think about a variety of people to ask your question and ask it! Perhaps you will think of other tools to answer your question, like a survey…
- Think about the answers you received and the respondent’s perspective. We all have our biases, simply accept that everyone has a perspective based on their experience and interest.
- Write a paragraph or page about your question and the answers. First paragraph, what was the question and why answer it? Second, who did you ask and what perspectives have they? Third, what did they say? fourth, what do you think, what’s the answer that seems to make sense? Fifth, what are the next steps – reporting to the board? a partner? vendors? Do you see an opportunity to shoot for?
- NOW Share what you wrote or find someone to talk with because… SCIENCE IS SOCIAL.
When you work with researchers, remember they use the same process. This is how they design research. You will want to do work if you get the grant and if you don’t. You can apply this research design process to your market or any subject of interest. This process helps you answer questions and tell people HOW you know what you know. Unleash your social scientist self!
3. Create Partnerships
When planning ahead for next year’s grant cycle, ask yourself; Do I have any partners? Do I need any partners? What role can partners play in the grant?
Start simply by…
- Researching potential partners and how the partnership would benefit each of you.
- Communicating and forming relationships with potential partners.
For example, partnering with Farm 2 Facts (F2F) would provide you with extensive knowledge in communication, social science and data management/collection that would benefit your next grant application. With every partnership, F2F’s goal is to ensure that market managers can focus on developing a thriving market while leaning on F2F to ensure that they can communicate their successes in a compelling and robust way.
4. Network with Local Government Officials
Continuously remind yourself that it is important to communicate your impact. Whether that is before or after you start your research, communication leads to further opportunities and connections that can enhance your research. A positive relationship with local government officials is very benefactory for further funding, research, and a healthy market.
It’s your responsibility to help your local government understand your needs in regulations or ordinances. Need a little help articulating how your market benefits the community? Check out our blog on “What can Government Officials Learn from Farmers Market Managers.”
All this knowledge you are building will help you make educated decisions and build useful relationships. Remember, using this waiting time to make plans and connections is crucial whether you end up with the grant or not. Think forward!