Mountain farmers are encouraged to tap into two different grants to expand and diversify what they grow, as well as create better in-roads into the marketplace.
Funding for both comes from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund, helping farmers in regions that were once tobacco dependent make forays into new areas of agriculture.
• WNC AgOptions gives small grants of $3,000 to $9,000 for farm diversification projects to help farmers offset the risk of trying new ventures. There will be around 40 grants given out.
Projects this year have included a propagation house for food and medicinal plants, hops production, a maple syrup finishing cooker, no-till production of specialty winter squash, and a screened greenhouse for commercial disease-free strawberry plants.
The program is also getting additional funding this grant cycle through the new Family Farm Innovation Fund.
Deadline Nov. 1. www.wncagoptions.org.
• Grants of up to $20,000 will be awarded for projects undertaken by groups of farmers to improve the local agricultural system, solving processing, marketing, packaging and other distribution issues.
Past grants include farmer’s market renovations, alternative crop research, agricultural marketing campaigns and developing markets for value-added food producers.