Finding Innovation Picks a Winner

germaine2When making a presentation, it never hurts to ply the audience with snacks.

That strategy – along with nine months of hard work – paid off for Germaine Jenkins, who earlier this week was declared the winner of the South Carolina Community Loan Fund’s first Feeding Innovation challenge, designed to fund projects improving food access in underserved areas. The program was the subject of a feature in Wednesday’s Post and Courier food section.

Jenkins was the lone finalist who didn’t rely on PowerPoint to illustrate her proposal for a panel of judges.  Instead, she served spring rolls at the outset of her talk about her family’s background and her plans to launch an urban farm in North Charleston.

According to Fresh Future Farm’s website, the concept was developed in accordance with principles espoused by urban agriculture advocate Will Allen. Jenkins has completed a commercial agriculture training program offered by Allen’s non-profit, Growing Power.

The Community Loan Fund didn’t detail its decision-making process, so it’s unclear whether the spring rolls – a prototype of an item slated for sale at the farm’s on-site store – swayed the judges.

“The judges were impressed with the high degree of innovation in all of the models presented,” the Community Loan Fund’s strategic initiatives director, Anna Hamilton, e-mailed in response to a question about how Jenkins was chosen over three other competitors.

“Further, they commented on how committed the entrepreneurs were to the missions of their businesses,” she continued. “The judges were also impressed with the educational components of Fresh Future Farm’s programming.”

According to the Community Loan Fund, Jenkins will now work with the city of North Charleston to find a location for Fresh Future Farm.

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