January Updates and Opportunities

Conferences and Events

  • 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.


  • WV Agritourism & Farm-Based Education Initiative hosted by WVU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources. Five Workshops: Saturdays 8:30-4:30: January 9, February 13, March 12, April 9th and May 14th. Lewisburg, WV. Agritourism is a hybrid concept that merges elements of two complex industries—agriculture and tourism – to open up new profitable markets for farm products and services, and provide travel experiences for a growing segment of interested travelers. Agritourism/farm-based education operators can play a catalytic role in strengthening WV’s agriculture and tourism industries. This project will develop and provide technical training, planning tools, supplemental resources and industry contacts to 25 existing and/or new agritourism/farm-based education operators in three counties in WV. More information is available here.


  • North Carolina Agritourism Networking Association Annual Conference. January 14-15, 2016. Winston-Salem, NC. This event will include a farm bus tour and the 10th annual conference. Get more details here.


  • Future Harvest CASA’s Cultivate the Chesapeake Foodshed 17th Annual Conference. January 14-16, 2016. Hyattsville, MD. One of the region’s largest farm and food gatherings! Future Harvest CASA’s 17th annual conference offers 10 pre-conference workshops, seven conference tracks, and three keynote speakers, as well as local food tasting, interest gatherings, and more. Tracks include beginning farming, value-added, fruit and vegetable production, health and food, grass-fed, business of farming, and policy. Find out more about this conference by clicking here.


  • 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 espellman@wvfoodandfarm.org.


  • 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.


  • Virginia Biological Farming Conference. January 29-30, 2016. Roanoke, VA. The Virginia Association for Biological Farming and Virginia State University collaborate to bring you knowledgeable speakers, informative sessions, amazing local food, and wonderful networking opportunities at Virginia’s premier gathering of farmers, gardeners, and supporters. The conference features pre-conference workshops, 25 educational sessions, plenary speakers, and more. Click here for more details, including how to register.


  • Pick TN Conference. February 11-13, 2016. Knoxville, TN. The Pick TN Conference gives Tennessee farmers their best opportunity to explore the latest information and access the best resources for every facet of modern farm life, all in one event. Whether you grow an orchard, flowers, a corn maze, wine grapes, acres of produce, or manage a farmers market, you can leave the Pick TN Conference with a whole new bag of tricks to make 2016 your best year ever. Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in educational sessions, a tradeshow, and networking with producers from across the state. Click here for more information.


  • 12th Annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference. Charleston, WV. February 25 – 27, 2016. Conference goals include: Unlock the potential of West Virginia small farms to produce food profitably; Help small farms transition from commodity production to food production for community and local consumption. And Support West Virginia’s 22,000 small farms families by: providing reliable, tested knowledge about current trends, needed skills, and latest production and operation information, and building an understanding of how to develop a successful small farming enterprise. And lastly, Support and further develop West Virginia’s food system and local communities by encouraging local production, processing, wholesale & retail marketing, and consumption. Get details 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.


  • SAVE THE DATE: Appalachian Food Justice Conference May 19-21, 2016, Morgantown, WV. More details to be announced.



  • 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.


  • 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.


  • Native Agriculture & Food Systems Initiative. Applications are due by January 25, 2016. First Nations Development Institute is accepting grant proposals under its Native Agriculture & Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI). Through the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, First Nations plans to distribute up to 10 grant awards averaging $30,000 each to support projects that aim to strengthen local food-system control; increase access to local, healthy and traditional foods; and decrease food insecurity and food deserts, all with an emphasis on serving Native American children and families. Desired projects will noticeably improve a tribe and/or tribal community’s effort to increase access to healthy and fresh foods for vulnerable children, families and communities. Additionally, desired projects will help increase awareness of and involvement with where their food comes from, and expand knowledge of the linkages between foods, Native cultures and/or contribute to tribal economic growth and development of entrepreneurial food ventures. Check the website for more information by clicking here.


  • 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.


  • Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund. Applications must be received prior to February 1, 2016. The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund provides direct assistance to veterans in their beginning years of farming or ranching. The Fund does not give money directly to the veteran, but rather to a third-party vendor for any items that make a critical difference in the launch of a young farm business. Grants are awarded in the name of the foundation or corporation that has contributed to the Fund. In 2016, grants are being given through support from the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, Prairie Grove Farms, Prudential Financial and Kubota Tractor Corporation. Awards are also made in the form of a scholarship to study for a career in agriculture at a college, university, or farm-training program. Applicants must have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, currently be on active-duty, or serving in the military reserve/National Guard and must be members of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. Visit the website by clicking here.


  • Rural Energy for America Program Energy Audit & Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants. Applications are due by February 1, 2016. This program provides funding for tribal, state and local governments; universities and colleges; public power entities and rural electric cooperatives; or resource conservation and development councils to assist rural small businesses and agricultural producers by conducting and promoting energy audits and providing renewable energy development assistance (REDA). Assistance must be provided to agricultural producers and rural small businesses. The maximum aggregate amount of an energy audit and REDA grant in a Federal fiscal year is $100,000. Find out more about this opportunity by clicking here.


  • 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.