May 2015 Updates & Opportunities

Conferences and Events 

  • Cover Crops and Fertility Management Field Day. May 7, 2015. Berea, Kentucky. This Organic Association of Kentucky Field Day will be held at Berea College. Topics will include cover crops to choose in a given situation, methods for termination such as rolling/crimping, mowing, and plow-down, as well as general organic field crop management. For more information click here.


  • Choosing Equipment for a Small, Diversified Farm. May 11, 2015. New Tazewell, Tennessee. This event is part of a six-workshop series, “Are You Ready to Start a CSA?” from the University of Tennessee. These two-hour workshops are scheduled for one Monday afternoon a month, and will be offered on working farms throughout Tennessee from January to June 2015. Workshops will be taught by experienced growers and UT personnel and will provide growers with training in planning, structuring, marketing, managing, analyzing profitability, and expanding a CSA. This session at Terraced Gardens Farm will cover choosing equipment for a small, diversified operation. Click here to learn more.


  • Small Business Innovation Research Road TourMay 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.


  • Introduction to Postharvest Handling for Enhanced Shelf Life. May 21, 2015, Newton, North Carolina, & June 2, 2015, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. To assist growers in developing skills that will provide a competitive advantage within the fresh produce market, North Carolina Growing Together (NCGT) will offer a series of post-harvest physiology, pathology and handling workshops, in collaboration with NC State University Cooperative Extension. Participants will learn approaches and technologies to maintain product quality and extend shelf-life, limiting post-harvest disorders and loss of sales. This half-day workshop is intended for growers who are interested in learning more about handling fresh fruits and vegetables once they have been harvested. It is geared toward producers who sell into wholesale markets, farmers markets, roadside stands and CSAs. Growers will learn practical ways to meet industry quality standards as they relate to harvest techniques, packing, grading, pack size, packaging, and shelf-life. Click here to find out more.


  • Try This! ConferenceJune 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.


  • Farm to Fork. June 5-7, 2015. Durham, North Carolina. Join in a weekend celebrating sustainable farming, the bounty of local agriculture, and the relationships that continue to bloom in the food community between farms, restaurants, fishermen, beverage producers, and consumers. The weekend features a local-food dinner with five acclaimed North Carolina chefs, presentations on the seafood industry, and the Farm to Fork Picnic more than two dozen chefs and farms paired together and another two dozen food artisans featured. Find more information here.


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



  • Using Case Studies to Facilitate Farmer Conservation Decisions. May 14, 2015. This webinar is presented by the USDA NRCS East National Technology Support Center. Participants in this webinar will learn how to use case studies of producer experiences to facilitate conservation decision-making. More information & registration here.


  • Profiles in Small-Scale Processing: Blue Ridge Meats. May 28, 2015. This is a free webinar presented by the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network. On this webinar, participants will get a “behind the scenes” peek at Blue Ridge Meats, a small, USDA-inspected slaughter and processing facility in Front Royal, Virginia. Lois Aylestock, VP, will describe how they manage day to day operations, getting and keeping customers, bookkeeping, employee management, and more. She will tell us about systems they’ve developed, what has worked, and what she wishes she had known before they got started. More information & registration here.


  • Creative Financing for Food. June 18. Presented by the Wallace Center. Is access to capital holding your food business back from thriving? Whether you run a farm, food hub, processing facility, retail store, co-op or shared kitchen this webinar will introduce you to new and creative sources of capital. Register here.


  • One Page Cost Benefit Analysis Tool. August 20. Presented by the Wallace Center. Making decisions that make good financial sense is difficult. But difficult decisions become a whole lot easier when you have the right tool to walk you through the financial implications of your decision. Meet the One Page Cost Benefit Analysis Tool. Recently created by Farm Credit, this tool is designed to make your difficult purchasing (or other financial) decisions a little easier. Join us to learn how this powerfully simple tool can help your business today, or how you can use this tool to assist the farms and other business owners you work with. Register here.


Funding Opportunities

  • 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.


  • 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.


  • Farmers Market Promotion Program.The application deadline is May 14, 2015. Farmers Market Promotion Program offers grants to increase domestic consumption of, and access to, locally and regionally produced agricultural products, and to develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local markets. Projects may develop, improve, expand, or providing outreach, training, and technical assistance to, domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agritourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. The maximum amount awarded for any one proposal cannot exceed $100,000; the minimum award is $15,000. Click here to learn more.


  • Look at Agriculture… Organically! Educator Grants. Applications are due May 22, 2015. Look at Agriculture… Organically! educator grants are available to certified K-8 teachers nationwide through the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom and CCOF. These grants are designed to creatively enhance the understanding of organic agriculture for kindergarten through eighth grade students. Grants of up to $1,000 will be provided to 20 educators to support the integration of organic agriculture into regular classroom instruction. Find out more here.


  • Southern SARE Research & Education Grants. Pre-proposals are due June 1, 2015. The Southern region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is accepting pre-proposals for the 2015 Research & Education Grants program, for systems research and education activities that address issues of sustainable agriculture of current and potential importance to the region and nation. The SARE Southern Region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more by clicking here.


  • Southern SARE Professional Development Program Grant. Pre-proposals are due by June 1, 2015. Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) is accepting pre-proposals for Professional Development Program (PDP) grants. PDP is a “train the trainer” program, providing funding to agricultural professionals to train Cooperative Extension agents, USDA field personnel, and other ag professionals and educators in areas of sustainable agriculture production practices. Training activities may include seminars, workshops, farm tours, on-farm demonstrations, or the marketing and distributing of training materials. Activities may take place in a single state, multiple states, or throughout the entire Southern region. Follow this link to find out more.


  • 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.