The Working Lands Enterprise Board announces this year’s grant recipients - 37 projects for $1.1 million in grants reaching every county in Vermont (8 forestry projects, 28 agriculture projects, 1 ag and forestry project) and leveraging $1.8 million in matching funds, building upon last year’s initial investment of $1 million. This year, the program further invests in job creation, innovation, sustainability, and increased income. An event to recognize the recipients was held at Grow Compost in Moretown.
“We recognize the tremendous economic and environmental impact that our Working Lands businesses have across the state of Vermont,” said Governor Shumlin. “By investing in technical assistance and infrastructure for our ag and forest economies, we are creating jobs and supporting a quality of life that will attract Vermonters and out-of-stater’s for generations to come.”
“The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative builds upon Vermont’s history and culture through investment in our state’s backbone: our forests, farms, food, recreation, and wood products economies,” said Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Market, Chuck Ross. “It takes investment in infrastructure and support services at all stages of business development to grow and maintain a vibrant working lands sector.”
Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Community Development, Lucy Leriche, said. “The working landscape is the foundation of some of our most important economic sectors: agriculture, forest products, stone and minerals, and renewable energy, but also critical for our tourism economy and helps attract business to our state. Interacting with the land in work and recreation is fundamental to our way of life.”
“Vermont’s forests provide significant contributions to our economy, environment and well-being,” said Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation, Michael Snyder. “When we invest in support services and infrastructure for working forests and forest products enterprises, this pillar of the economy grows stronger and we bolster both Vermont’s character and integrity.”
Highlighting the vital role technical assistance plays in developing and sustaining Vermont’s working landscape, an overwhelming majority of Working Lands grant recipients have received technical assistance, including education and business mentoring or support. Delivery of these critical business and organizational resources were provided by Vermont Housing and Conservation Board’s Farm and Forestry Viability Program, University of Vermont Extension Service, Northeast Organic Farmers Association of Vermont (NOFA VT), United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS), Small Business Development Center (SBDC), The Intervale Center, and various county Economic Development Corporations. Technical assistance is loosely defined as providing recipients with technical guidance on business and management planning, feasibility studies, practical application, and product design.
I. Enterprise Investment Recipients
Enterprise Investments are one of three areas of the Working Lands Initiative, with grants ranging from $3,000 - $20,000 for new and growing agriculture, forestry, and forest products enterprises. The Enterprise Investment area received 49 applications with a total request of $415,427 in funds, and invested over $300,000 to 19 grant recipients, and leveraged over $350,000 in matching funds.
16 Agriculture Grant Recipients
· Doolittle Farm, Shoreham | $14,203 for egg washing equipment
· Windfall Orchard, Cornwall | $9,750 for cider presses and equipment to expand business
· Wilcox Ice Cream, Manchester | $20,000 for a manufacturing facility
· Snug Valley Farm, East Hardwick | $20,000 for improving delivery of pigs and pork products
· Jericho Settlers Farm, Jericho | $18,200 for heated tunnels with biomass furnace to expand winter vegetable production
· North Williston Cattle Company, Essex Jct. | $10,000 for equipment to reclaim prime agricultural land.
· Bouchard Farm, St. Albans | $9,750 for equipment and materials for organic dairy cow housing
· Elmore Roots Fruit Tree and Berry Nursery, Elmore | $12,000 for kiosks to expand accessibility to product
· Fat Toad Farm, Brookfield | $15,000 for more efficient caramel equipment to expand production
· Bonnieview Farm, Albany | $20,000 for cheese aging cave to double production
· Cate Hill Orchard, Greensboro | $20,000 for an on-farm processing facility for value added products and to begin producing farm farmstead sheep cheese
· Kingdom Brewing, Newport | $20,000 for a retail bottle/cannery and growler fill station
· Lazy Lady Farm, Westfield | $6,000 for a solar array to secure energy requirements for an off-grid dairy.
· Rogers Farmstead, Berlin | $20,000 for equipment to expand grainery capability
· Big Picture Farm, Townshend | $20,000 for materials for caramel production and cheese production facility
· Boyd Family Farm, Wilmington | $20,000 to renovate existing barn
3 Forestry Grant Recipients
· Green Mountain Hardwood, Ripton | $9,825 for a portable sawmill and materials for solar-assisted lumber kiln
· NorthWoods Stewardship Center, East Charleston | $18,200 for forwarding trailer and implementation of low-impact timber harvests in the Northeast Kingdom
· Rockledge Farm Woodworks, Weathersfield | $10,000 for website development and marketing
FY ’14 II. Service Provider Investment Recipients
The Working Lands Enterprise Board received 42 Service Provider Letters of Intent – $2,450,165 TOTAL; 31 Agriculture ($1,599,365, 65% of total $ requests); 8 Forestry/Forest Products ($670,800, 28% of total $ requests) and 3 Ag and Forestry ($180,000, 7% of total requests). The Board received 22 Service Provider Applications with a total request of $1,041,158 in funds, and invested in just over $400,000 to 8 grantees, 7 of which will have statewide impact and 1 will impact Essex County. These grantees represent the agriculture, forestry and forest products sectors, (2 forestry projects, 5 agriculture projects, 1 ag and forestry project), and leveraged over $450,000 in matching cash funds.
5 Agriculture Grant Recipients
· Intervale Center, Northeast Organic Farmers Assocation Vermont (NOFA-VT), University of Vermont Extension, Vital Communities and Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) | $50,000 for The New Farmer Project: Nurturing the next wave of Vermont agricultural entrepreneurs
· Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund | $20,000 for strengthening producer and processor association capacity
· DairyVision Vermont | $50,000 for DairyVision Vermont, a farmer led technical service effort empowering dairy farmers
· University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture | $27,939 for Vermont swine industry development
· University of Vermont Department of Plant and Soil Science and Community Development and Applied Economics | $40,000 for apple market optimization and expansion through value-added hard cider production
2 Forestry Grant Recipients
Essex County Impact
· Canaan Community Forest Committee and Town of Canaan and Canaan Schools| $50,000 for continued development of the Canaan Community Forest as a model working forest and educational resource
· Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association | $50,000 for innovation assistance to wood manufacturers
1 Ag and Forestry Grant Recipient
· Vermont Housing and Conservation Board | $118,337 for business assistance for Vermont's food and forestry enterprises
FY ’14 III. Capital and Infrastructure Investment Recipients
The Working Lands Enterprise Board received a total of 38 Capital and Infrastructure Letters of Intent for a total of $2,244,298; 26 Agriculture ($1,514,298, 67% of total requests); and 12 Forestry/Forest Products ($730,000, 33% of total $ requests). The Board received 20 Capital and Infrastructure Investment area applications with a total request of $1,267,672.50 in funds. The Board approved funding for 10 projects from 7 counties for a total of $459,880 in grants (3 forestry projects and 7 agriculture projects), leveraging over $1,000,000 in matching funds.
7 Agriculture Grant Recipients
· Vermont Livestock Slaughter and Processing, LLC, Ferrisburgh | $38,000 for a computerized weight data and tracking system for livestock
· Vermont Technical College: Institute for Applied Agriculture & Food Systems, Randolph | $75,000 for a dairy processing plant and hub
· Grow Compost of Vermont, LLC, Moretown (Lisa Ransom pictured) | $75,000 to fund a long-range strategic plan to assist businesses and farms to comply with the provisions of the recently enacted Act 148
· Vermont Food Venture Center, (Hardwick) and Mad River Food Hub, Waitsfield | $50,000 for an Equipment Access Program for Vermont value added processors
· Screamin’ Ridge Farm, Inc., East Montpelier | $50,000 for a collaborative processing facility for value-added agricultural products
· Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market, Brattleboro | $30,000 for site acquisition and expansion of the farmers’ market
· North Hollow Farm, Rochester | $24,380 for an on-farm USDA inspected meat processing plant
3 Forestry Grant Recipients
· Northeastern Vermont Development Association, St. Johnsbury | $50,000 to catalyze the market for high-efficiency, fully automated wood pellet boilers in the Northeast Kingdom and to enhance associated delivery and service infrastructure
· Goodridge Lumber, Inc., Albany | $30,000 for land acquisition
· Ironwood Brand, LLC, Brattleboro | $37,500 to link native lumber with prefab, high-performance construction
Agency of Agriculture staff: from left – Noelle Sevoian, Colleen Leonard, and Jolinda LaClair, Deputy Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture, who administer the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative
The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, Act 142, is administered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and is in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, as well as the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The Working Lands Enterprise Board, comprised of public and private sector members involved in agriculture, forestry, and/or forest products is in its second year of funding, and uses the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan to inform the decision making process around farm and food grant making.
2014 Grant recipient profiles can be found at the Working Lands website at http://workinglands.vermont.gov/projects.
A growing list of technical assistance providers for agriculture and forestry/forest products business can be found at the Working Lands website at http://workinglands.vermont.gov/apply/ta/tools. If you would like to add your contact information to be listed as a technical assistance resource, please email email@example.com.
About the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets: VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment. Visit www.VermontAgriculture.com.
EVENT PHOTOS: Vermont Department of Agriculture/Clover Cow.