PRESS RELEASE / October 25, 2010
SustainFloyd Wins Two Federal Grants to Increase Opportunities for Floyd Farmers
Group to Receive $29,850 for Feasibility Study of a Floyd County Food Processing Plant & $36,840 to Help Farmers Market
Floyd, Virginia – SustainFloyd (www.sustainfloyd.org) has won two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants to increase opportunities for Floyd farmers. A nonprofit community group dedicated to cultivating a resilient local economy, SustainFloyd will receive a USDA Specialty Crop Competitive Grant of $29,850 for a feasibility study of a possible food processing plant for local produce. Additionally, SustainFloyd will receive a USDA Rural Development grant for $36,840 to help pay for equipment and office supplies for the Floyd Farmers Market.
Congressman Rick Boucher was a supportive partner in helping SustainFloyd win these grants.
“Floyd is home to a thriving farm community and the two allocations of federal funding announced today advance the goal of enabling local farmers to directly market their products to the public,” said Congressman Boucher. “With the federal funds, the local farmers market will be improved to ensure that it remains a convenient and popular location for purchasing local produce, and the feasibility of developing a food processing center in Floyd, so that Floyd farmers would be able to market their locally grown produce region-wide, will be determined,” Boucher said.
FOOD PROCESSING PLANT STUDY
The feasibility study would examine the viability of a Floyd County food processing center that would aggregate, process, store and package locally grown fruits and vegetables and then market and distribute the products to regional and national buyers. These would include institutions, college cafeterias, Farm-to-School programs, grocery stores and restaurants.
Woody Crenshaw, President of SustainFloyd, says a food processing plant is part of Floyd’s heritage. The Old Dominion plant in Floyd County packed produce for U.S. soldiers during World War II.
“This harkens back to the old days of having a local cannery, but it goes way beyond that,” said Crenshaw. “If built, the facility could create an expansion of traditional agriculture to include a new generation of product opportunities for Floyd’s farmers to participate in.”
A new processing plant would not compete with the region’s vibrant small-scale farms now serving Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s), farmers markets and gourmet restaurants. Instead, the processing plant would allow Virginia farmers to serve larger buyers who require more produce, greater standardization, and availability outside the growing season.
Project partners include Jeff Walker, Principal of Blue Ridge Site & Soil, LLC; Floyd County Agricultural Extension Agent Jon Vest; and Floyd County Economic Development Director Lydeana Martin.
“Many of us would love to see more food grown and processed in Floyd County again,” said Ms. Martin. “A food processing plant would create local jobs and support a new generation of farmers. Looking at potential markets is an essential first step.”
FLOYD FARMERS MARKET EQUIPMENT
The USDA Rural Development Grant of $36,840 for the Floyd Farmers Market comes through the agency’s Housing and Community Development program. The federal funds will help pay for a refrigerated truck, a sound system, an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) machine, hand trucks, a printer and other supplies for the Floyd Farmers Market, established last year by SustainFloyd.
Michael Burton, SustainFloyd Director, says the Floyd Farmers Market had a successful first season, opening in May to provide fresh, locally produced meat, cheeses, breads and produce every Saturday in the new Floyd Community Market pavilion on South Locust Street.
“These funds will bring our market to the next level and help us on our way to rebuilding a local food infrastructure,” said Burton. “This is SustainFloyd’s long-term goal.”
The Floyd Farmers Market closed for the season on Saturday, October 16, 2010, but will reopen next May. The Artisans Market in the Floyd Community Market pavilion will continue to offer local arts and crafts both Friday nights and Saturday mornings through November.
The USDA’s Rural Development Housing and Community Facilities Program provides grants to assist in the development of essential community facilities in rural areas and towns of up to 20,000 in population. Grants are available to public entities such as municipalities, counties, and special-purpose districts, as well as non-profit corporations.
SustainFloyd (www.sustainfloyd.org) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible and may be sent to 206 South Locust Street, Floyd, VA 24091. For more information, contact Mike Burton at 540-250-0111.