The Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program, organized by Sustainable Tompkins, has awarded five mini-grants totaling $2,110 for small-scale initiatives that encourage local self-reliance, strengthen neighborhood connections, and promote long-term community well-being.

The program was established in 2008 with $5,500 in seed money. Mini-grant awards, ranging from $150 to $750, are made on a quarterly basis.

The award recipients were chosen by the Mini-Grants Council made up of residents of Tompkins County and members of the Board and staff of Sustainable Tompkins. Mini-grants were awarded to the following:

* $550 to the Dacha Project to purchase a non-electric compressed-air water pump for their group’s new 16-acre self-sustaining, educational homestead in Freeville, which includes an earth-bermed structure, a fruit and nut tree orchard, an organic garden and a straw-bale cottage.

* $500 to Ithaca Freeskool to print calendars of classes and increase outreach to residents of all ages in Tompkins County.

* $390 to the “Granny Squares” group at Titus Towers to purchase a quilting arm in order to complete their handmade quilts that are sold at auctions.

* $370 to Shaleshock Citizens Action Alliance to produce newsletters reporting on industrial gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale and its effects on the Finger Lakes region.

* $200 to IthaCan for Web site support and materials to teach food preservation.

* $100 to Utica Street Gardens, to purchase seeds and soil amendments for a multi-family shared vegetable garden in the Fall Creek neighborhood.

The next round of grant applications, due on Dec. 1, is open to all residents, citizen groups and non-profit organizations of Tompkins County. Deadlines in 2010 will be March 1, June 1 and Sept. 1. Applications are only 3 pages long and easy to complete. To obtain an application form, join the Mini-grants Council, make a donation in support of the program, or get more information about it, click here.