The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded grants to eight Virginia farms and agribusinesses. The grants help agricultural producers increase their income by expanding marketing opportunities, creating new products or developing new uses for existing products.
USDA Rural Development is funding 110 projects nationwide involving locally-produced and marketed foods. These include cheese, wine, dairy products, produce, packaged poultry, pork and beef products and a variety of processed or prepared foods from locally-grown fruits and vegetables.
The Virginia recipients include Wills Brothers, Inc., dba Mt. Crawford Creamery, of Mt. Crawford, Virginia; Mid-Atlantic Aquatic Technology, LLC, of Quinby; Miller Farms, Inc., of Locust Grove; Showalter Orchard and Greenhouse of Timberville; Homestead Creamery, Inc., of Wirtz; Broadfork Farm, LLC, of Chesterfield County; MeadowCroft Farm, LLC, of Swoope; and Glenmary Gardens of Bristol. Grant amounts ranged from $29,000 to $300,000 per farm or agribusiness.
At Wills Brothers, Inc./Mt. Crawford Creamery, funds will be used for planning purposes to determine the feasibility of producing and marketing pasteurized milk, handmade cheeses and butter. Specific tasks include information gathering, strategic planning, administrative costs and consultant costs.
Grant proceeds for Mid-Atlantic Aquatic Technology, LLC, (MAAT) on Virginia’s Eastern Shore will be used to pay a qualified consultant to investigate and develop a feasibility study for creating a value-added market for a recirculating aquaculture system produced black sea bass. MAAT currently produces bait.
Miller Farms of Locust Grove in Orange County will use their grant funding for working capital to expand the processing and marketing of locally-grown produce. Funds will be utilized for inventory and supply purchases, labor, new marketing channels, office supplies and operational costs.
Showalter Orchard and Greenhouse of Timberville will use grant funds for working capital to expand processing apples into hard cider and marketing them. Funds will be utilized to purchase inventory, implement a marketing and promotional campaign, make web page improvements, seek legal representation and training.
In Wirtz, Homestead Creamery will use its grant funding for planning purposes to explore the possibilities for a value-added venture producing artisan cheese products. Funding will underwrite the costs of a feasibility study, and marketing and business plans.
Chesterfield County’s Broadfork Farm will use its Rural Development funds for working capital to expand the processing and marketing of pizzas and breads from producer-grown vegetables. Funds will be utilized for inventory purchases, labor, promotional and marketing materials, and website design.
MeadowCroft Farm in Swoope will use grant funding to provide working capital to expand the processing and marketing of pickles, relishes, sauces, salsas and jams from producer-grown tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. Funds will be utilized for inventory and supply purchases, labor, an inventory system upgrade, graphic design improvements to website, office supplies and social media design.
Glenmary Gardens in Bristol will use its grant to expand the processing and marketing of locally-grown fruits and vegetables into jellies, ice cream and flavored syrups. Glenmary Gardens is a family-owned operation providing freshly grown berries, fruits and vegetables to the Virginia and Tennessee Tri-City area.
“I strongly believe that adding value to a raw agricultural commodity is a great way for farmers to boost their income and diversity their operations, said Matthew J. Lohr, VDACS Commissioner. “This support will benefit rural businesses and the communities where the recipients are located and also will support local and regional food systems. We are grateful that USDA chose eight Virginia farms and agribusinesses as recipients of these grants.”