For many local nonprofit groups, a few hundred dollars from Premier Mushrooms can be converted into a valuable service to the citizens of Colusa County.
This year, Premier Mushrooms (Farmers’ Fresh), in partnership with the Colusa County Chamber of Commerce, awarded seven grants for calendar year 2020 that will go toward fire prevention education, art, literacy, and other local causes.
The Premier Mushroom Grant Program is possible through the sale of mushrooms at the Colusa Farmers Market, said Chamber Manager Jennifer Diaz. The grant cycle ends each Dec. 31, with awards given out in February.
“Premier Mushrooms donates the mushrooms to the Farmer’s Market,” Diaz said. “We sell the mushrooms, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the grants.”
The Farmers Market, deemed an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, was able to raise enough money over the summer to fund seven grants.
The Farm-to-Fork dinner, held each June, traditionally helped fund the grant program as well, but the popular event was canceled in 2020 as California continued to restrict large social gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chamber of Commerce, like many organizations, hopes to resume the dinner as more people are vaccinated for coronavirus, which causes COVID-19 disease.
The 2021 Farm-to-Fork dinner is currently being planned for June, Diaz said.
Premier Mushroom, a Colusa specialty crop company – and one of Colusa County’s largest employers – started the grant program in 2010, handing out grants of $75 to $100.
With contributions from Farm-to-Fork, Premier Mushroom and Chamber of Commerce have given out as many as 12 grants, ranging from $200 to $500.
Recipients of the 2020 grants accepted their awards at a small, socially-distanced Grant Awards Breakfast at the Colusa Business & Visitor’s Center on Feb 11, catered by Market Street Grill.
The 2020 recipients included the Friends of the Colusa County Library, The Colusa County Free Library Literacy Program, the Arbuckle College Fire Protection District, Studio ABC, Maxwell Park and Recreation District Auxiliary, the Williams Art Club, and the Stonyford Community Hall Association.
Most are past recipients. The Premier Mushroom grant annually provides annual fire protection education for youth at the Arbuckle Fire Hall during National Fire Prevention Week. The grants also help fund art supplies for Williams junior high and high school students that participate in Art Club and Art classes.
A new $250 grant went to the Stonyford Community Hall for the Stonyford Museum this year to update the veterans memorial, which has fallen in disrepair.
“We strongly believe that the men and women of our community deserve to be honored and respected,” said Museum Director Penny Arbanasin. “Therefore, our plan is to update and repair the current memorial to represent the community’s pride in our veterans.”
The Friends of the Colusa County Library was also awarded a $250 grant to help spruce up The Bookworm, the used bookstore on Market Street, which supports the local library.
The group plans to use the money to give new life to the store’s appearance, in order to attract more customers.
“Over the years it has become a bit shop-worn and tired looking, which dissuades potential customers from shopping locally,” said Friends Vice-Chair Nancy Newlin.
Newlin said the group plans to use the money for a more inviting display, including new interior paint and a bookcase that will be level with the front windows to showcase what book and music options are available inside.
“Being a part of the downtown business district is very important for our community,” Newlin said. “Many folks do their part to support the libraries, but funds are very short to provide books, periodicals, computer access, etc. to all our citizens.
Newlin added that a craftsman has volunteered to build the bookcase, and that the grant will help the group pay for the materials for the upgrade.
The Colusa County Free LIbrary Literacy Program received a $500 grant for the “Little Rainbows” Summer Reading Program for the summer of 2021 at the Colusa, Arbuckle, Maxwell, and Williams branch libraries.
The program runs six weeks for children up to 5 years of age.
Jessica Ridgley, Colusa County literacy coordinator, said it takes a variety of funding sources for the Library to fund reading programs for preschoolers.
The Premier Mushroom grant will help fund supplies for the weekly activities, she said. ♣