Archived Outdoors

Grants for farm diversification, local agriculture groups

Small farmers needing help might just find the financial boost they need through WNC Agricultural Options.

The group this year will award $150,000 to 35 or so farm businesses and farmer-led groups.

“Successful farming in today’s environment requires taking on challenges,” said Ross Young, Madison County extension director and WNC AgOptions steering committee leader. “New crops, new farming systems and new marketing strategies all increase the potential of a farm’s success but also increases risk. The WNC AgOptions program helps this region’s farmers balance that risk by providing financial assistance as well as hands-on guidance with a new venture.”

The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission supplies the money to WNC AgOptions, which is in its eighth year. Grants of $3,000 and $6,000 are available. Past projects have ranged from putting in trellises for farmer’s embarking on berry production, greenhouses for farmers moving into hydroponics, goat milk parlors, or wine vineyards.

Awards of $10,000 will go to three farmer-led groups working to solve processing, packaging, marketing and other distribution needs of the local agriculture system. Past projects include collective marketing efforts and farmer co-ops for distribution.

WNC AgOptions “intent to apply” deadline is Nov. 16; the application deadline is Dec. 1. www.wncagoptions.org

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