December Updates & Opportunities

Conferences and Events

  • Virginia Farm to Table Conference. December 2-4, 2015. Weyers Cave, VA. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Strengthening Your Foodshed, Protecting Our Watersheds.’ The conference will feature engaging and inspirational speakers with broad experience and knowledge of food, farming and pressing environment issues including Dr. Dennis Keeney of Keeney Place and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, 2014 James Beard Leadership Award Winner — Ms. Karen Washington of Rise and Root Farm and nationally recognized “Queen of Urban Gardening”, Dr. Chuck Benbrook of Measure to Manage and Benbrook Consulting Services, Mr. Robin Morris, Executive Director of Mad River Food Hub and Ms. Ellen Polishuk of Potomac Vegetable Farms. Learn more by clicking this link.


  • 5th Annual Tennessee Local Food Summit. December 4-6, 2015. Nashville, TN. Participate in 3 days worth of education and celebration of local food and what it can mean for us here in Middle Tennessee. Knowledgable and inspirational speakers, famous chefs demonstrating what to do with your locally grown produce, and a chef-prepared meal straight from local farms accompanied by a trade show and farmer/chef auction. Tour a thriving local farm, Green Door Gourmet, to finish the weekend-long conference on Sunday. Click here to learn more and to register.


  • Connect2Direct Summit: Building Vibrant Farmers Markets. December 8, 2015. Wake Forest, NC. North Carolina farmers, farmers market managers, and board members are invited to attend the summit on Tuesday, December 8th at Wake Forest University’s Benson Center. The Connect 2 Direct Summit is a gathering for the farmers market community (farmers, market managers, board members) to come together to learn, share, and build the network and viability of farmers markets across the state. The goal of the summit is to draw on the information and experience of those working with, at and for farmers markets in North Carolina. Click here for more information.


  • 2016 Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference. January 4-5, 2016. Lexington, KY. The 2016 Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference will have something for everyone interested in fruit and vegetable production. This year’s event convenes January 4, 2016 at Lexington’s Embassy Suites Hotel, and concludes around 5 p.m. January 5. Pre-conference sessions will be offered in the evening on Sunday, January 3. The conference is jointly sponsored by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Kentucky State University and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Click here for more information and to register.


  • Growers Academy. Tuesday nights, January 19-March 1, 2016. Christiansburg, VA. In partnership with Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Coalition, the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center is offering the 2016 Growers’ Academy in Christiansburg, VA. The course is designed to help new and transitioning agricultural businesses succeed. The series focuses on whole farm business planning and low-input crop production. Instructors include resource professionals and farm business owners. Click here to find out more.



  • West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition’s Local Food Lobby Day, January 26, 2016. Charleston, WV. The West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition will be advocating for three impactful local food policies in 2016: expanding the list of foods that can be sold as cottage foods, a local preference law that allows public institutions such as hospitals, prisons and state agencies to preference locally grown food during their bidding process; and/or that reimburses public institutions up to a certain amount for purchasing locally grown food. a tax incentive for the costs associated with harvesting, storing and transporting food donations. For more information about these upcoming campaigns, please email Elizabeth Spellman at


  • Southern SAWG’s 25th Annual Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference. January 27-30, 2016. Lexington, KY. “In addition to the outstanding practical information and networking opportunities we’re famous for, this year we will also be commemorating and celebrating the growth that we all, as a community, have brought about in the sustainable agriculture and local food movements over the last 25 years.” Find out more by clicking here,


  • National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference. February 28- March 1, 2016. Washington, DC. The National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, co-sponsored by the Food Research and Action Center and Feeding America, draws anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocates; federal, state and local government officials; child advocates; representatives of food banks and food rescue organizations; sponsoring organizations and nutrition and anti-obesity groups, for three days of training, networking and Capitol Hill advocacy. Participants share information and learn how to strengthen the quality and reach of federal nutrition programs, learn best outreach and program practices from other states and localities, fill in the gaps in food service for millions of low-income children, and identify creative ideas for new and innovative approaches to ending hunger. Members of Congress, Hill staff and key Administration officials attend the conference, provide comments as part of plenary sessions and panels, and join participants at receptions and special events. Click here to learn more.



  • GroupGAP: USDA’s New Cooperative Approach to Farmer Food Safety Certification – a National Good Food Network webinar. Wed, Jan 20, 2016 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM EST. GroupGAP is a new service (available Spring 2016) from USDA to audit farmers to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Small farmers are feeling the pressure to get third-party certified as more buyers are requiring GAP certification, and as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) puts them under new regulatory oversight. Click here to learn more about this webinar and to learn how you can attend. 


Funding Opportunities

  • Appalachian Grown™ Cost Share. These funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. ASAP, through support from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, has funds available for Appalachian Grown™ certified farms in North Carolina to be used in the promotion of locally grown food. These funds can be used for design and production of labels, packaging, or promotional materials featuring the Appalachian Grown logo. The promotion must reach the public and support farmers within one or more of the Appalachian Grown counties in North Carolina. The maximum ASAP cost share for each calendar year is $1,500 for an individual farm and $5,000 for a farmer group, dependent upon total number of farms in group. Find out more by clicking here.


  • USDA NIFA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) Grant Program, Deadline: December 16. This is a competitive grants program to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase. Improving the affordability and consumption of fruits and vegetables not only helps to improve the health of families, but also expands economic opportunities for farmers. Click here for details.


  • Agricultural Reinvestment Fund. Applications are due by December 31, 2015. RAFI’s Agricultural Reinvestment Fund assists innovative and entrepreneurial farmers and collaborative farmer groups in North Carolina in developing new sources of agricultural income. Through cost-share grants, the program awards up to $8,000 to individual farmers and up to $10,000 for collaborative farmer projects. Past projects have included hundreds of innovative initiatives: model pack-houses, mobile farmers markets, heritage poultry breeding, farm-to-school projects, specialty produce, micro-dairy bottling, cheese-making, low tunnel season extension, tropical plant production, wind-powered farms, model collaborative marketing ventures, and much more. Click here for more information.


  • Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America Safety Grants Program. Applications are due by January 7, 2016. The purpose of the ASHCA Safety Grants Program is to encourage and provide financial support for agricultural safety and health interventions at the local and/or regional level in order to facilitate timely application of evidence-based safety/health strategies to protect agricultural workers. Applicants are expected to be engaged in agriculture-related production, education/training and/or research. A maximum of $10,000 may be requested. Learn more by clicking here.


  • Fresh, Local & Equitable: Food as a Creative Platform for Neighborhood Revitalization. Proposals are due by January 15, 2016. This Kresge Foundation funding opportunity is designed to support food-oriented initiatives that contribute to economic revitalization, cultural expression, and health in low-income communities. Kresge will award up to 20 planning grants of as much as $75,000 each in the first quarter of 2016 as part of the initiative “Fresh, Local & Equitable: Food as a Creative Platform for Neighborhood Revitalization.” Organizations and collaborations that lead food-oriented development initiatives in economically distressed urban neighborhoods are eligible. Planning grants can last up to 12 months. Recipients will participate in a national learning network and have the opportunity to apply for implementation grants.
    Find the full RFP here.


  • Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. Applications are due January 21, 2016. NIFA requests applications for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) for fiscal year 2016 to support the delivery of education, mentoring, and technical assistance programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers in the United States and its territories with entering, establishing, building, and managing successful farm and ranch enterprises. The anticipated amount available is approximately $18 million. The recipient must be a collaborative, State, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of public or private entities, which may include state cooperative extension service; community-based and nongovernmental organization; college or university; or any other appropriate partner. Click here to find out more.


  • Our Planet, Our Health. Preliminary applications are due by January 29, 2016. The Wellcome Trust is accepting applications from organizations in any country for the Our Planet, Our Health funding opportunity. The program invests in high-quality, transdisciplinary programs of research that investigate novel aspects of – and build evidence for – how complex changes in our environment affect our health. Supported proposals will consider the interplay between different environments (biological, physical, economic, social and natural), drive collaborative research, and ultimately lead to outputs with a significant impact on our health. Our Planet, Our Health wants to establish a limited number of significantly resourced transdisciplinary research programmes, with a focus on our health and wellbeing, that can advance our understanding and our ability to address the challenges associated with the global food system and/or urbanization. Applicants may apply for up to £2 million a year for up to five years. The engagement of both the public and the private sector is highly encouraged. Follow this link 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.


Other Opportunities

  • Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives. Deadline: December 18, 2015. In celebration of their 100th anniversary, Farm Credit seeks nominations to identify and honor 100 rural leaders who are changing the future of agriculture and rural communities for the better. Once the panel of experts has evaluated the nominees, the top 100 “Fresh Perspectives” honorees will be announced in March 2016. If you would like to nominate yourself or someone you know for their influential work in rural agriculture, visit the Farm Credit 100 website.