CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Six West Virginia agriculture programs will share in more than $270,343 in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grants for Fiscal Year 2022. These grants will help the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the State and support crop growers through marketing, education and research.
“As we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as navigate foreign conflicts, natural disasters and economic hardships, it is vital we continue to develop local food systems and build resiliency and food security in our State. Each one of the projects funded focuses on specialty crops which can help foster growth within our agricultural industries. We are excited to see the impact these projects will have,” said West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.
Recipients must use the federal funding to enhance the production, processing and consumption of specialty crops in West Virginia. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Grant recipients have two years to plan, implement and gather data on their respective projects.
Grow Ohio Valley, $61,110 – (Ohio County) – Grow Ohio Valley’s (GrowOV) Local Fruits and Flowers project will unify and coordinate the marketing and promotion of specialty crops in the Northern Panhandle. The project will provide public education and events celebrating specialty crops and support innovative entrepreneurship around specialty crop production. The project focuses on investing in youth agricultural and leadership training. Wheeling youth will create and manage their own urban flower farming business.
Vandalia, Inc., $80,000 – (Kanawha County) – Vandalia, Inc will create a kettle system at the KISRA commercial kitchen in Dunbar. This project will include the purchase of a series of kettles that will help process locally grown fruits and vegetables into finished goods that would be distributed throughout the eastern part of the United States. The company will continue to expand their co-packing operations to reach additional small food manufacturers or those currently operating under the WVDA Cottage Foods programs who would look to expand production.
West Side Grown Expansion, $50,000 – (Kanawha County) – Keep Your Faith Corporation’s (KYFC) West Side Grown Expansion project seeks to ramp up the operations of the West Side Grown (WSG) urban farm in Charleston, to increase production of specialty crops for use in their mobile farmers market and the community-owned grocery store that’s under development. This program will transform WSG’s urban farm from strictly educational into a full-scale production farm that grows specialty crops for sale and sustainability of the project. This project will employ two youth “farm hands” from the community to learn agricultural and entrepreneurial skills that will benefit the West Side Grown program and increase economic development.
Spotted Horse Farm, $49,600 – (Lewis County) – Spotted Horse farm will provide the Hops Cooperative with specialty equipment for increased efficiencies through automation and the production of high standard shelf stabilization of hops to increase market competitiveness of this specialty crop.
West Virginia University Extension Service, $30,260 – (Monongalia County) – WVU Extension will demonstrate the efficacy of integrated disease management tool for managing grape black rot to vineyard owners and backyard growers that will not only reduce disease incidence and chemical residue but also improve marketable yield. The project will include multiple on-farm trials to demonstrate the results from our proposed integrated method compared to traditional method to growers through field day and outreach activities.
“USDA applauds West Virginia’s continued commitment to supporting our nation’s producers of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The projects funded will foster innovative research and new market opportunities within the specialty crop sector, while furthering USDA’s goals of creating a more fair and equitable food system and supporting local and regional producers.”
For more information, contact Leslie Boggess email@example.com 304-558-2210.