April 2015 Updates & Opportunities

Conferences and Events 

  • Mother Earth News Fair. April 11-12, 2015. Asheville, North Carolina. This event will feature more than 150 practical, hands-on demonstrations and workshops, as well as hundreds of regional and national vendors that feature sustainable lifestyle products and services. Topic areas include modern homesteading, real food, and animal husbandry. Notable speakers include Joel Salatin, cheesemaker Claudia Lucero, market gardener Pam Dawling, and renewable energy expert Richard Freudenberger. Find out more here.


  • Independence Farmers Market Workshop. Saturday, April 18, 8:30 am-5:00 pm. $10 ahead, $12 at the door. This workshop features a morning session on crop planning, tools, and techniques for home and market gardening and available markets, followed by an on the farm tour in the afternoon.  This informative event is targeted to backyard gardeners, market growers, and new farmers who wish to grow food for retail, direct sales, and wholesale markets. The morning session will be at the GNB Conference Center at 558 East Main Street in the Guynn Shopping Center in downtown Independence. A potluck lunch will be served — please bring a dish to share!The afternoon session from 1 pm to 5 pm will move to Wagon Wheel farm and will illustrate some of these practices, and include tours of the transplant greenhouse, high tunnel, and contoured and raised bed gardens. In addition there will be irrigation, bed shaping, and hoop bending demonstrations.
    • Please register early by emailing or calling. Please make checks payable to Independence Farmers Market. There is no charge for Independence Farmers Market vendors who have paid the season vendor fee or for students.
    • For more information and to register, please contact: Michelle Pridgen, market manager at independencefarmersmarket@gmail.com or 276-768-0597. The entire workshop schedule can be found at the website.


  • Fourth Annual Combating Racial Injustice Workshop. Saturday, April 25, 2015. 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Inn at Virginia Tech & Skelton Conference Center. Blacksburg, VA. Free of charge, Registration Required.This workshop will focus on addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system in the State of Virginia and the nation. Why? To understand the nature and extent of racial injustice in the criminal justice system and the impact it is having within our communities; to learn more about working to alleviate this problem; and to network with others interested and engaged in this issue. What? Workshops: processes in combating criminal injustice; citizens responding to and intervening in racial injustice issues; and brainstorming breakout sessions. Who? Workshop leaders: featuring Stories from South Central (prisoner support group from southern Western Virginia) Also, Ashley Sharpe and Krissy Colvin (Virginia Tech Students); Andy Morikawa and Wornie Reed (VA Tech and Dialogue on Race). Please RSVP to Tish Glosh, glosht@vt.edu or 540-231-8972 By April 22, 2015. For more information, please contact: Dr. Wornie Reed, (540) 231-3496; wornie@vt.edu


  • Urban Food Desert Symposium. April 29, 2015, 9am-3pm (lunch will be provided). The GRACE Center at Fifth Street Baptist Church, 1302 Victor Street, Richmond. Hosted by: Virginia Cooperative Extension, Richmond City. Who & What: Presentations, dialogues and a resource expo with dynamic speakers from: Shalom Farms, Virginia State University, Tricycle Gardens, 31st Street Baptist Church Urban Farmer’s Market, Renew Richmond, Richmond City Health Department and more. Click here to register(Registration deadline April 24, 2015).


  • WV Community Development Hub “Hubapalooza”. April 30, 2015, 10am-3:30pm, Summersville Conference Center. Hubapalooza will feature presentations, discussions and resources focused on: Great things happening in other communities across the state; Sharing lessons learned and creating lasting networks for collaboration; The role of policy in enhancing our community improvement work; Communications techniques to boost your project or initiative; West Virginia’s economic, social and human health – what opportunities and threats are on the horizon? Registration is available here.


  • Farm Dreams?. May 2, 2015, Asheville, North Carolina. Farm Dreams? is an entry level, five-hour, exploratory workshop designed to help people who are seeking practical, common sense information on whether sustainable farming is the next step for them, and how to move forward. This is a great workshop to attend if you are in the exploratory stages of getting started farming. Find out more here.


  • Small Business Innovation Research Road Tour. May 14, 2015, I-79 Technology Park, Robert H. Mollohan Research Center, Fairmont, WV, $30. This is part of a national outreach effort to explore technology funding opportunities provided through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Registration available here.


  • Try This! Conference. June 4-6, Buckhannon, WV Wesleyan. A conference for those working for a healthier West Virginia. Forty workshops focusing on a variety of topics including farmers markets, school gardens, bicycling and running programs, school-based health centers and parks. Registration is $100. Late fees apply after April 15th. Register here.


  • 2nd Appalachian Food Summit. September 26, 2015 in Abingdon, VA. Find details here. Tickets go on sale in March.



  • Webinar: Conservation Planning. April 8, 2pm EST, Online, Free. Farmers and ranchers use conservation plans as a basis to manage their natural resources. Conservation Planning continues to be a dynamic process that engages technical knowledge with on-the-land expertise to address resource concerns. Participate to review the steps in conservation planning, gain insight to the Stewardship Plan framework, hear feedback from the Stewardship Plan pilot in Iowa, and review the latest update information in the National Planning Procedures Handbook. View the webinar here.


  • Community & Economic Impacts of Local Food Systems. April 10, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. During this webinar, Dr. Lamie will cover some of the major functions for deriving economic impact numbers for local food systems and how to analyze existing economic impact reports. Based on the particulars of a community, economic impacts of local foods may or may not be significant. Dr. Lamie will describe other impacts of local food systems that can also be significant for communities and individuals, for example, community cohesion and other specific aspects of social capital creation. Contact Joanna Lelekacs, joanna_lelekacs@ncsu.edu or Abbey Piner, abbey_piner@ncsu.edu with questions. Click here to register.


  • Rethinking Alternative and Emergency Food Networks in West Virginia. April 16, 2015, 12pm. Online. Free. On this webinar, you will learn more about the Community Food Security Assessement (CFSA) efforts in West Virginia and the WV Foodlink tool. Pre-registration is not necessary. To participate, simply go here at the start of the webinar and log-in as a guest. More information here 


Funding Opportunities

  • Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program. Proposals must be received by April 13, 2015. This program, known as the “2501 Program,” assists socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers in owning and operating farms and ranches while increasing their participation in agricultural programs and services provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Specifically, this program assists eligible community-based and non-profit organizations, higher education institutions, and tribal entities in providing outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers. The total funding potentially available for this competitive opportunity is $9.1 million, with a maximum grant of $400,000. Click here to learn more.


  • Funding Available: Up to $3500 for local food aggregation projects in West Virginia. Applications due May 8, 2015. The West Virginia Farm & Food Coalitions is offering mini-grants of up to $3500 to support aggregation projects across the state. Grantees can use funding for a variety of projects, but funding must enhance the efforts and sustainability of aggregating local food. Specifically, funding can be used for startup aggregation/food hub projects or existing aggregators/food hubs for business coaching, addition of staff, equipment, marketing, or other tactics to become more sustainable and implement business and/or logistics plans. For the whole RFP, click here.


  • West Virginia Farmers Market & Summer Food Service Program Gleaning Initiative. Deadline: April 30th, 2015. The West Virginia Farmers Market Association is trying to bridge the participation gap in the Summer Food Service Program (only 16% of eligible kids participate), by bringing meals to kids where they are, instead of tackling the transportation challenge we have here in West Virginia. To find out more and to get matched with a sponsor, please call or email Amy Wentz Berner at the Department of Education, Office of Child Nutrition at 304-558 3396 or email aberner@k12.wv.us. Read more about this initiative here.


  • USDA Local Food Promotion Program Grants. Deadline: May 15, 2015. The Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program provides a combined total of $26.6 million divided equally between its two grant programs. The FMPP provides $13.3 million to support projects for direct farmer-to-consumer marketing projects such as farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, roadside stands, and agritourism. The LFPP offers $13.3 million in funds for projects that support intermediary supply chain activities for businesses that process, distribute, aggregate, and store locally- or regionally-produced food products. For the complete RFP and eligibility information, click here.


  • Grant Notice: Food Security Challenge Area. Deadline: June 4th, 2015. The goal of the Food Security Challenge Area for FY 2015 is to develop agricultural production research, education, and extension to develop more sustainable, productive, and economically viable plant and animal production systems. This program will also develop regionally adapted crop cultivars and livestock/breeds that contribute to rural economic development and prosperity while enhancing food security. These investments will increase food security by improving agricultural production systems at the regional and national levels and by encouraging diversification of agricultural production. Find the full RFP & information here.


  • Agriculture and Food Research Initiative: Foundational Program. Application deadlines vary by program area from March 31 through June 24; some program areas require submission of a letter of intent to apply. USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture is requesting applications for six AFRI priority areas through the Foundational Program for FY 2015. These priority areas are plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; food safety, nutrition, and health; renewable energy, natural resources, and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities. The amount available for support of new projects in FY 2015 is approximately $116 million. Click here for more information.


  • Ben & Jerry’s Foundation Grassroots Organizing for Social Change. Organizing for Social Change Program offers general or project support to non-profit organizations throughout the United States and is BJF’s most competitive grant program. BJF makes one-year grants for up to $20,000, to organizations with budgets under $500,000. Only organizations with 501(c)3 status, or who have a fiscal agent with this status are eligible to apply. Click here for more information.


  • Golden LEAF Foundation Open Grants Program. The Golden LEAF Foundation is committed to using the funds entrusted to it for projects that show the most potential for strengthening North Carolina’s long-term economy, especially in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and/or rural communities. In the Open Grants Program, Golden LEAF’s grantmaking is focused in the areas of Agriculture, Job Creation, and Retention and Workforce Preparedness. In agriculture, Golden LEAF sees particular promise in the areas of value-added processing, market expansion, and projects targeting alternative crops, livestock, and aquaculture. Eligible applicants are governmental entities and 501 (c)(3) non-profit organizations. First, applicants complete a letter of inquiry. Applications are reviewed on a bi-monthly basis. Click here for more information.


  • Cedar Tree Foundation. Letters of inquiry are accepted at any time. The Cedar Tree Foundation is a small family fund whose grant making focuses on sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and environmental health. The Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals, but welcomes letters of inquiry for U.S.-based work from non-profit organizations working within its program areas. Click here to learn more.


  • The Harry Chapin Foundation. The Foundation Board meets three times a year on an as-needed basis. The Harry Chapin Foundation funds 501(c)(3) not-for-profit programs that operate in the United States that fall within the areas of Community Education Programs, Arts-In-Education Programs, and Agricultural and Environmental Programs. Grant sizes range from a few hundred dollars to a maximum of $10,000. Find out more about applying here.