Congratulations to The Fungi Connection for their 2021 GoodSpark Grant win! The Agriculture/Agri-food category of the 2021 Desjardins GoodSpark Grants Program had the biggest number of successful applicants, with 33 grants awarded.

Everyone at Desjardins Financial Security Independent Network (DFSIN) Toronto West looks forward to experiencing the business acceleration offered by your new facility. We are happy you ordered that mushroom growing kit as a teenager.

Desjardins GoodSpark Grants Program

Every business begins with a spark. Desjardins have been supporting small businesses with advice, adapted funds, and easier access to credit for over 120 years. The GoodSpark Grants Program is a continuation of this mission. We want to contribute to improving the economic and social well-being of our people and communities. Small businesses are an important part of this effort.

The Desjardins GoodSpark Grants Program awards 150 grants to the value of $20,000 (gross) each to the successful applicants. In addition to this monetary award, financial consultation services are provided by Desjardins agents, advisors, or account managers. Every applicant to the grants program selects the services they need in their application.

Financial consultation services are provided within the first 30 calendar days following the Grant’s award to each recipient. It consists of one face-to-face or virtual meeting with the Grant recipient and any management team member.

Fungi, Labour, Love and Determination

Darin and Deb Kelly are the owners of The Fungi Connection. They have such a love for “growing stuff” that their first couple of dates included seed catalogs and the beginning of a compost pile. Darin grew up in Ontario, and Deb was raised in Indiana, United States.

Deb and Darin wanted to farm sustainably and provide organic food to their community without using fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides. Starting the farming enterprise in 2006, they had stalls at various farmers’ markets throughout the years, including the Bloomington Farmers Market in Bloomington, Indiana. The focus at that stage was homegrown vegetables and flowers.

Darin always had a love for mushrooms, and as a teenager, he ordered a mushroom-growing kit from Mother Earth News magazine. In 2014, Darin started researching mycology, the study of fungi. Deb and Darin began growing mushrooms, and now, with the GoodSpark grant, they can expand their new facility.

The Fungi Connection supplies mushrooms to multiple restaurants and grocers in Kingston, Ottawa, and Prince Edward County. Darin also provides consultation and training services to people interested in starting a mushroom farm or farm-market-based business. And for those with fungiphiles in their life, give them a The Fungi Collection gift card to choose their mushroom-growing kit.

Presentation of grant cheque to The Fungi Connection

The Desjardins GoodSpark Grant cheque was handed over to Deb and Darin by Steve Martin, a Financial Security Advisor with Desjardins Financial Security Independent Network (DFSIN) Toronto West. Steve shares his own experience.

“Excitement was in the air when I introduced who I was and where I was calling from. As much as I didn’t want to give away the surprise too early, the excitement in Deb’s voice was growing with every word as if she could sense what was coming.

In a matter of seconds, the conversation went from calm to absolute jubilation when it was finally revealed that The Fungi Connection was selected as one of the winners of the Desjardins GoodSpark Grant. Deb’s excitement was hardly containable as she frantically started spreading the word to all within earshot that they had won.

I had the pleasure of visiting Deb and Darin to deliver the cheque and received the grand tour of The Fungi Connections’ current and future facility. It was certainly an experience to remember. Deb and Darin’s passion for farming, and particularly the cultivation of mushrooms, was apparent from the get-go.

Their new facility is poised to be the next big step for this once little mushroom farm. Deb and Darin are thrilled with the GoodSpark Grant providing the ability to accelerate the growth of The Fungi Connection to become a not-so-hidden treasure for chefs and foodies all over Ontario.”

DFSIN Toronto West supports small businesses with affordable life insurance

Planning for the future is important for individuals, especially those with small businesses. DFSIN Toronto West offers affordable life insurance plans designed for small business owners. These plans include Term Life Insurance and Permanent Life Insurance. Desjardins has been celebrating entrepreneurs for a long time and congratulates The Fungi Connection on its 2021 Desjardins GoodSpark Grant win.

To learn how DFSIN Toronto West can help you, contact us today.