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Six Austin-area culinary innovators received funding for the AFWA’s 2015 grant program to help realize their dreams and further propel the city’s skyrocketing culinary scene.  Awarded for culinary innovation and community giveback, these winners received $40,000 total in grant awards for their projects.


Texas Keeper Cider

Makers of small-batch, artisanal ciders in Manchaca, Texas Keeper Cider is committed to crafting balanced, dry ciders made in a traditional fashion from fruit grown by small Texas growers. Grant funds will be used to open the cidery to the public and develop a taproom in a historical farmhouse where the cidery can release creative micro-batches of cider, have joint releases with other Central Texas beverage makers, and to expand innovative partnerships with local chefs and farms to put cider where it should be – alongside great food.


Two Hives Honey

Taking “local” to a whole new level, Two Hives Honey provides all-natural, raw, and unfiltered honey products harvested from micro-apiaries in Austin neighborhoods with each micro-harvest reflecting the flavor profile of forage available in that specific neighborhood. Currently honeys are produced from neighborhoods in Zilker, Cedar Creek, North Loop and Lampasas. Grant funding will support Two Hives Honey in expanding its organic micro-apiary sites from 4 to 6, allowing for two hyper-local neighborhood comb honeys to be produced. Two Hives Honey will offer the hyper-local comb honey to local restaurants in hopes of re-introducing this raw and rare honey form to the community. Additionally, this grant will help to fund a pilot pollinator education program for elementary students.


Meridian Hive Meadery

As Austin’s first and only meadery, Meridian Hive Meadery specializes in hand-crafted and unusual honey wines. Its mission is to go beyond the rising national popularity of mead, the brew of choice in medieval times, to dive deeper into an even more niche market to produce unique carbonated, slightly sparkling meads called ‘session meads.’ Meridian Hive Meadery is the only meadery in Texas producing these award-winning session meads that also utilize local and unique ingredients. Grant funds will be used to increase production capabilities to meet the high demand for the session meads, allowing further innovation using diverse and unique ingredients to craft new recipes, and introduce the public to variations of this near-forgotten beverage.


Urban Roots

Urban Roots uses food and farming to transform the lives of young people and inspire, engage, and nourish the community. With its 3.5-acre farm in East Austin, the non-profit provides 42 kids with paid internships serving 14,000 people with produce sales and through donations of farm-grown produce to those in need. Each year, its goal is to grow 25,000 pounds of produce with 40% of the harvest supporting local soup kitchens and food pantries and the remainder is sold at farmers’ markets, CSAs and wholesale. Grant funding will allow this innovative and dynamic food program to update its Educational Farm Tour curriculum and align its youth leadership program with core competencies of self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. Through this support, Urban Roots Interns grow into some of Austin’s youngest leaders, advocating for a sustainable and healthy food system for all.


Salud! Bitters Co.

Salud! Bitters Co. is a small-batch, handcrafted bitters company in Austin, using responsibly foraged, locally sourced, and organic ingredients wherever possible. The company is the first bitters company in the state that highlights regional farmers and Texas-native botanicals and flavors. The regionally inspired bitters line blends the worlds of spirited beverages and health-promoting benefits. The grant will fund FDA certification and allow the business to scale up to meet small-batch retail and wholesale demand. Additionally, the money will be used to support a Salud! Bitters educational tour around Texas, providing free educational events and workshops.


Manor High School Culinary Arts Program

At only four years old, the Culinary Arts Program at Manor High School has an established catering program, operates a student-run restaurant and regularly prepares and serves meals to families staying in the Ronald McDonald house. The culinary arts program has quickly become the largest of the Career & Technical Education programs with 200 certifications each year – a giant accomplishment for the small high school. With the goal to prepare students to graduate and enter the workforce, workable equipment and a kitchen re-design is greatly needed. These grant funds will be used to pay for much-needed equipment to enable students, 93% who are low income, a greater opportunity in their education.



Miche Bread

Miche Bread is the first and only community-supported bakeshop in Austin and provides organic, subscription-based breads made with heirloom grains milled in-house and leavened naturally. Very few farms are attempting to introduce and produce heritage grains in Texas and Miche’s mission is to promote whole grains in Central Texas. Miche is seeking funding to purchase a stone mill to increase capacity, along with additional equipment for expanded production and refrigeration.



Farmgrass is an Austin-based nonprofit, launched in 2014, to raise critical funds for Central Texas Farmers in need of health care. Farmgrass provides funding support to GroAct Farmers Emergency Medical Fund. By hosting events such as Farm To Feast, a locally sourced dinner banquet in March, and Farmgrass Fest, a bluegrass festival in May, Farmgrass uses proceeds to make comprehensive healthcare available to the Central Texas farming community. In its short life span, the organization has already donated $24,000 to the Emergency Medical Fund. Farmgrass is seeking support to continue to host these fundraising events by helping with production and operating costs.