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Sprout receives Otto Bremer grant

LITTLE FALLS—Sprout announced it received $50,000 from the Otto Bremer Foundation to implement a mobile market to engage rural communities through food and art.

"We're inspired by the breadth and diversity of programs in which the Otto Bremer Trust is making investments," stated Daniel C. Reardon, Otto Bremer Foundation co-chief executive officer and and trustee, in a news release. "From access to housing, food, health and wellness services, to helping with job skills development, vocational opportunities, and literacy programs, we're proud to be supporting dozens of organizations that are having a positive impact in communities across the Upper Midwest. We look forward to the impact this grant to Sprout will have on the community."

Sprout Mobile Market will put fresh local food on wheels and en route to communities in central Minnesota. By creating new retail food access points, the Mobile Market can fill the gap in areas with limited infrastructure and maintain fresh and staple food supplies for its residents. The local food focus will additionally support area growers who can add a new market channel for selling their produce, meat, eggs and other products. The Otto Bremer Trust awarded $25,000 initially to Sprout with another $25,000 in funding contingent on an equal match.

Sprout will additionally enhance the shopping experience community members seek through interactive engagement opportunities at mobile market stops, the release stated. A cohort of artists will be equipped to design mobile art studios to accompany the mobile market and other community happenings.

Examples of these mobile studios, called "art carts," may include supplies for a pop-up painting class like easels, paints and brushes or a folding stage and microphone set could allow for short play productions or musical performances. Whatever the medium, the art carts will aim to foster community fun, new skills and interests, the release said.

"Our goal is to increase access to fresh local foods and provide a venue for local artists to demonstrate and share their creations with the public," stated Natalie Keane, Sprout's facility utilization director, in the release. "Our work at Sprout uses food, art, and culture as the core of initiatives that increase healthy food access, encourage entrepreneurship, and cultivate creativity. The mobile market is our way to address food access gaps in our rural region while still incorporating the elements that make shopping, eating, and learning fun. "

A social crowdfunding campaign in June launched the funding support for the mobile market. The online platform through www.mnstarter.com allowed community members to donate to the cause and select rewards, like a cooking class or private dinner for friends at Sprout. More than 180 community members demonstrated their support of the mobile market initiative during the social crowdfunding campaign, which helped indicate to funders like Otto Bremer Trust the cause has community buy-in, the release stated.

For more information on Sprout's Mobile Market, visit www.sproutmn.com/mobilemarket.

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