Local food, farming projects get state grants
RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - A few of our hometowns will share more than $200,000 in grants announced for 11 projects as a part of Virginia Ag Week.
A total of $214,000 in state funds to support infrastructure supporting local food and farming systems was announced by Governor Youngkin’s Office. The matching grant awards from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industry Development (AFID) Fund Infrastructure Grant Program boost strategic funds to help small-scale farmers and food producers from growing.
Meat processing, grain milling, oyster production, food and beverage, and shepherding are among the areas receiving the boost. New and expanded farmers markets and a commercial kitchen are also included.
“As we begin this weeklong celebration of agriculture, Virginia’s largest industry, I am pleased to partner with our local governments through the AFID program to make strategic investments into the infrastructure our farmers and food producers need to be successful,” adds Governor Youngkin. “It is through innovative partnerships like these, where the private and public sectors come together to identify and address critical needs, that we can keep the Commonwealth moving forward.”
Details on the projects can be found below:
“Commercial Kitchen Expansion, Bedford County
Bedford County is requesting funding to expand the commercial kitchen facility located at Bramble Hollow Farm, a member of a small, sustainable food-focused farming collective known as Edible Goose Creek. Few commercial kitchen facilities exist in the area, so this facility is serving a local community need for producing value-added products. The funding request is for the purchase of a commercial tilt kettle for producing Bramble Hollow Farm’s popular chicken stock and other members’ products.
Farmers Market Improvements, Fauquier County
The County of Fauquier recently completed a Farmers Market Feasibility Study in 2021 and is requesting funding to implement recommendations from the study to increase both consumer and producer participation. Funding will be used to purchase signage and infrastructure upgrades, including tables, tents, and a sound system, as well as the purchase of two cold storage units.
Grain Milling Upgrades, Franklin County
Franklin County is requesting funding to support Green Sprig Ag (GSA), a grain milling operation run by a 5th generation farmer and a member of the Common Grain Alliance, a mid-Atlantic network of grain farmers. GSA produces both feed and food grade grains and needs to make facility upgrades to more efficiently process grains entering the food system. Funds will be used to renovate an existing building to meet food grade standards for the purpose of cleaning, storing, and processing grain for members of the Common Grain Alliance.
Sheep Wool Baler, Grayson County
Grayson County is partnering with the New River Valley Sheep & Goat Club to purchase a baler in support of regional sheep wool production. The discrepancy in the value of baled wool versus non-baled wool is extreme, and the purchase of the baler will allow producers to sell directly to the end buyer and see as much as a 400% increase in profit. This project is also receiving grant funding from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.
Grain Milling Upgrades, Nelson County
Nelson County has requested funding to help Deep Roots Milling (DRM), a founding member of the Common Grain Alliance and a leader in regional grain processing, grow both retail and wholesale sales. DRM operates at Woodson’s Mill, c. 1794, the only water-powered mill still in operation in Virginia. Funding will be used to upgrade the mill’s third floor to create a sifting room and to purchase new bagging equipment.
Oyster Processing, Northampton County
Northampton County is requesting funding to support the Ruby Salts Oyster Cooperative, a collective of five oyster farms. Funding will be used to purchase a pontoon barge to act as a mobile processing facility that will efficiently perform all farming and oyster husbandry activities, from seed to harvest. Customizable attachments will streamline production and the use of on-site solar power will reduce the Cooperative’s environmental impact.
Meat Processing Upgrades, Orange County
Orange County seeks funding to increase Piedmont Processing’s meat processing capacity, helping both Piedmont Processing and the 75 to 100 local producers that rely on the facility to process their meat locally. Piedmont Processing’s growth is currently limited by insufficient cooler space for aging beef. Funding will be used to purchase a walk-in freezer that will increase Piedmont Processing’s cooler space by 40%.
Mobile Market, City of Richmond
The City of Richmond requests funding to support RVA Street Foodies, an Urban Social Enterprise Mobile Market that provides SNAP eligible foods using a food cart model. This Mobile Market model creates employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, and strengthens the local food system by increasing access to healthy food options. Funding will be used to purchase additional food carts that will be used to reach targeted underserved communities to offer fresh fruits and vegetables sourced from Virginia farmers.
Farmers Market Construction, Scott County
Scott County seeks funding to construct a farmers market within the town of Nickelsville. Currently, Nickelsville residents must travel a minimum of 20 miles to access the nearest grocery store or farmers market, a burden both for consumers and farmers. Funds will be used to design and construct the facility in Nickelsville.
Oil Tank Installation, Shenandoah County
Shenandoah County is requesting funding to support Route 11 Potato Chips’ urgent need for oil storage, as global supply chain disruptions have threatened the reliability of sunflower oil delivery. Route 11 has been in operation for over 25 years and purchases more than one million pounds of Virginia-grown potatoes each year. Funding will be used to purchase and install four oil tanks, enabling Route 11 to purchase in bulk and guarantee a continuous, lower cost supply of oil.
Craft Beverage Support, Westmoreland County
Westmoreland County is pursuing the tourism- and local food-focused community development strategy of recruiting a new brewery and pub to downtown Montross. A vacant, former retail facility will be renovated into the new home of Northern Neck Brewing Company with the goal of creating a family-friendly destination for tourists and residents alike. Funding will be used to purchase brewery equipment and will leverage nearly $250,000 in additional investment to create a new brewery and pub focused on locally sourced produce, meat, and seafood.”
Applications for the next round of semi-annual AFID Infrastructure Grants will be accepted from October 1-November 15, 2022.
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