San Antonio culinary advocacy group honors 4 grant winners

Gardopia Gardens, an East Side nonprofit that uses an urban farm to educate the community about nutritious eating and culinary sustainability, is one of four recipients of grants from the San Antonio Food and Wine Alliance. (Courtesy Gardopia Gardens)
Gardopia Gardens, an East Side nonprofit that uses an urban farm to educate the community about nutritious eating and culinary sustainability, is one of four recipients of grants from the San Antonio Food and Wine Alliance. (Courtesy Gardopia Gardens)

Gardopia Gardens, an East Side nonprofit that uses an urban farm to educate the community about nutritious eating and culinary sustainability, is one of four recipients of grants from the San Antonio Food and Wine Alliance. (Courtesy Gardopia Gardens)

The San Antonio Food and Wine Alliance announced $17,000 in grants were awarded to two local nonprofits and two local businesses, recognizing the honorees’ community projects designed to enhance the city’s culinary scene and educational efforts.

According to a release, the Food Policy Council of San Antonio received a $5,000 grant to support construction of a deck for gathering space in a 4-acre agricultural are to better provide visitors with educational programming and events, as well as bike racks and benches to increase accessibility.

The agricultural space is a community food forest that FPCSA is developing at Padre Park on the South Side as a means of experimenting with permaculture experimentation, providing indigenous agriculture education and addressing food insecurity, according to the release.

Special Leaf, a locally-sourced olive leaf iced tea business, received a $5,000 Tito’s Handmade Vodka Entrepreneur Grant to increase tea distribution through a strategic marketing plan and equipment expansion, the release said. Special Leaf owner Chris Cook, a renowned local chef, also uses his tea-brewing venture to advance local food systems through Chef Cooperatives, a local nonprofit dedicated to promoting the welfare of south Central Texas farms via the farm-to-table movement.

Gardopia Gardens received a $5,000 H-E-B grant supporting diversity and inclusion. The East Side nonprofit will use the money to develop rainwater infrastructure, and add small livestock, chickens and bees to an urban farm the organization oversees. Gardopia Gardens will also use the money to buy garden tools for the community children served by the urban farm.



According to the release, the nonprofit aims to reduce obesity and malnutrition by increasing accessibility to fresh produce and implementing strategic intervention programming in schools, businesses and community organizations.

Local chef Tim “The Girl” McDiarmid and her restaurant The Good Kind received a $2,000 Truffle Masters Grant. McDiarmid plans to use the funds to install a live-growth wall and garden with edible flowers, vegetables and herbs for use in on-site food preparation to support the nonprofit and community outreach events hosted at the Southtown eatery. The release said The Good Kind Series project will bring further recognition to San Antonio’s culinary and nonprofit communities through a social media strategy and a targeted hashtag campaign.

The alliance annually hosts several charity culinary events to raise funds for the grants, including Taco Rumble and the Wine and Dine Dinner Series.

“In our first year of awarding these grants, it’s simply remarkable to see the continual innovation, talent and exceptional commitment to the creation of such a strong local food community that we enjoy in San Antonio,” said Cathy Cochran-Lewis, grant chair and alliance president, in a statement. “It’s an extraordinary honor to witness and support these projects.”

The release said the grant recipients were chosen by the alliance’s grant selection committee, a panel composed of prominent culinary and community-minded professionals. Additionally, the selection committee announced an honorable mention recipient—Sassy Chef, a gourmet, gluten-free, plant-based meal delivery service.

Sassy Chef’s owner is Heather Larican, a chef, clean-eating blogger, caterer and fitness instructor who uses her venture to encourage nutritious eating in the San Antonio area through classes and a plan to develop a commercial kitchen.

“These incredible projects clearly demonstrate innovation and bring value to the community,” interim SAFWA Executive Director Gina Burchenal said. “We’re so appreciative of the community support we’ve received since our expansion to San Antonio this last year, and that has allowed us to reward these outstanding initiatives.”

For more information about SAFWA, visit www.sanantoniofoodandwiinealliance.org.

By Edmond Ortiz
Edmond joined Community Impact as a reporter in August 2021, helping to launch new editions in the San Antonio market. Edmond covers various beats in the North San Antonio coverage area. He previously was the main reporter for Local Community News, covering several areas in and around San Antonio, first as a freelancer and then staff member. Prior to that, Edmond was a community news reporter for Prime Time Newspapers and the San Antonio Express-News, including editing two community weeklies. He's a San Antonio native, and studied mass communications at San Antonio College and Texas State University.