Since 1997, the girl & the fig founder Sondra Bernstein has been hard at work sharing her passion for food, wine, culture and experience. With two restaurants, a catering company, a tasting room, a pop-up space, a food truck, 2 cookbooks, her fig product line and a brand new podcast (see: The Bite Goes On. More info coming soon) under her belt, the Sonoma-based fig empire is alive and well. But perhaps nothing speaks larger to the character and ethos of the operation than the fig's non-profit, The Sonoma FIG Foundation Fund.
Established in 2016, The FIG Fund offers grants to nonprofit organizations which assist in funding for start-up entrepreneurs in food, farming, food media, wine and spirits, restaurants, and artisanal food production. Much like her desire to share the food and wine she loves, the aim of the foundation is to share the passion Sondra has felt as an entrepreneur over the past twenty years. "I want to be able to give back," says Sondra. "I want to see the next generation of people passionate about all-things-food get a chance."
"I want to be able to give back," says Sondra. "I want to see the next generation of people passionate about all-things-food get a chance."
Working in conjunction with Community Foundation Sonoma County, The Sonoma Fig Foundation Fund has helped 8 different small businesses achieve grants through a handful of non-profit organizations. Probed for her favorite entity she's witnessed being aided by the funding, Sondra downplays with a simple "all of them." However, with an authentic excitement she then savors sharing the small details of the story of Beet Generation Farm in Sebastopol, CA; a 2-acre organic and conscious from-the-ground-up (no pun intended) farm who received funding from Kitchen Table Advisors. Kitchen Table Advisors is an organization which provides farmers with access to the tools, knowledge and resources they need on their path to become resilient and viable businesses, whom The Fig Foundation in turn had provided a grant.
Indispensable to the work of the Fig Foundation Fund has indeed been the partnership with Community Foundation Sonoma County (CFSC). CFSC is "the hub of philanthropy for (Sonoma) county, connecting people, ideas and resources to benefit all who live here," says President and CEO Elizabeth Brown. Sondra praises the work of CFSC Philanthropy Adviser Kristen Nelson. "Kristen is great," she says. "We couldn't do this work without her."
Truly, it takes a village to raise good food.
When asked where she would like to see the Foundation go, Sondra replies, "I just want to see slow and steady growth; to feel the confidence that this work will continue. I don't have children to leave my legacy with. This work is where it will go. And I'm grateful for that."