How to Apply
Review the full Request for Applications for the complete details on eligible projects/applicants and the full application process.
Register in WebGrants (may take up to two business days).
Complete your application in WebGrants using the Application Guide by the due date.
What do the acronyms WLEI, WLEF, and WLEB stand for?
WLEI stands for Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, which refers to the overall grant program. WLEF stands for Working Lands Enterprise Fund, which refers to the money available for grants, which varies each year. WLEB stands for the Working Lands Enterprise Board, a group of Vermonters who make decisions about program strategy and which projects to fund. Learn more about WLEB.
Where can I find examples of projects that have been funded in the past?
Who do I contact with questions about my application?
For general questions, contact Clare Salerno at Clare.Salerno@vermont.gov or 802-917-2637. For WebGrants assistance with a Working Lands application, contact Diana Ferguson at Diana.Ferguson@vermont.gov or (802) 622-4094.
What is the Request for Applications (RFA)?
Each grant opportunity is outlined in the RFA, a guidance document that contains information about how much each grant is for, who can apply, application/project timeline, application questions, scoring criteria, and grant requirements. While the RFA contains instructions and application questions, the actual application must be filled out and submitted in WebGrants.
Who decides whether my project is funded?
The Working Lands Enterprise Board makes all funding decisions. WLEB is made up of community members and stakeholders who represent the farm, food, and forest businesses and sectors in Vermont. The Working Lands Organizational Plan provides more details about the different Board seats, objectives, and process. Prior to WLEB decision-making, a group of subject matter experts and thought partners from businesses and organizations across the farm, food, and forest sectors and the Agencies of Agriculture, Food & Markets; Commerce & Community Development; and Forest, Parks and Recreation carefully review each completed application and provide a slate of recommendations to the WLEB. All application reviewers follow the review and scoring criteria outlined in the RFA.
My business is pursuing Act 250 approval. Does this affect my WLEI application?
Visit the FAQ on Act 250 and Working Lands for information.
When will I hear back about whether my project was funded?
The Working Lands Enterprise Board meets once a month (usually on the third Tuesday of the month) and will usually make decisions on funding opportunities that closed earlier that month or in the previous month to allow time for careful review of applications. This means applicants typically hear back about 6 weeks after the application deadline.
If my project is not funded, will I receive feedback on why?
WLEB members strive to make informed decisions, and there are often more strong applicants than there are funds available. Program staff provide feedback from WLEB to each application that is not approved. It is not uncommon for applicants to reapply in a later year and receive funding, especially for those that use feedback to make improvements to their business and/or proposed project. Feedback can include referrals to business planning resources or other sources of funding.
I’m having trouble with WebGrants. Can I talk to someone for help?
Agency of Agriculture staff are available to assist you during State of Vermont business hours, Monday–Friday, 7:45 AM to 4:30 PM. Assistance may not be available shortly before deadlines. For WebGrants assistance with a Working Lands application, contact Diana Ferguson at Diana.Ferguson@vermont.gov or (802) 622-4094.
Can I get an extension on my application?
Your application must be submitted in WebGrants by the date and time indicated on the Request for Applications. After the deadline, WebGrants will prevent applications from being submitted. Late applications will not be accepted.
Can I apply to more than one grant opportunity in a year?
An organization can only be awarded one grant per fiscal year, so plan to only apply to one funding opportunity. That way, you can also maximize resources towards creating one strong application.
What do matching funds mean, and what is the difference between a cash match and an in-kind match?
If you request $20,000 on your application, your business should contribute an additional $20,000 in resources towards the project. This means the total cost of the project would be double the amount of funds you are applying for. At least half of the match should come from cash sources, which is anything that your business is paying for, such as equipment, labor/benefits, supplies, or contractors. In-kind match is anything that your business does not pay for, such as donated supplies, equipment, or volunteer labor.
What is the match waiver and how can I apply for it?
If your organization or business does not have the resources to meet the match requirement, you can still apply for a Working Lands grant. You would complete the budget table in the application with whatever match you plan to contribute (no match will still be considered). You then select on the application that you need a match waiver and provide narrative to explain why the match waiver is needed. WLEB considers all match waivers on a case by case basis as part of each application. If your organization is providing only in-kind match rather than a cash or cash & in-kind match, that is considered a match waiver.
I am a previous WLEI grant recipient. Can I apply again this year?
Previous Working Lands Standard Business, Business Enhancement, and COVID-19 Response Business Development grantees are eligible to re-apply for funding during Fiscal Year 2024. Previous Working Lands Supply Chain Impact, Market Level Infrastructure Impact, or Meat Slaughter and Processing Development Grants are eligible to apply for further Working Lands funding after three years, meaning that Fiscal Year 2021 and earlier grantees are eligible to apply this year.
I am looking for funds to start my business. Can I apply for Working Lands grants?
There are no restrictions on an applicant’s business stage for WLEI grants. However, for start-up or very early-stage businesses, other sources of funding may be a better fit. Visit the additional grants and financial assistance page, as well as a full listing of grants offered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets. Sign up for the Agriculture Development Newsletter to stay up to date on new resources.
Can I apply for Working Lands grant funds for a water quality project?
The WLEB will not fund water quality or soil health equipment and infrastructure projects that are eligible for funding under existing programs of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. For more information on these funding opportunities, see https://agriculture.vermont.gov/water-quality/assistanceprograms.
I'm looking for funds that are less than any of the available grants. Can I still apply for an amount below what is listed on the application?
Applications for amounts outside the range on the application will not be considered. WLEB recognizes that needs vary by sector, type of project, and business and the amounts vary from year to year to meet those needs. If the amount you are looking for isn't available, feel free to contact staff so that WLEB can consider the most current needs each summer when they make decisions on what grants to offer and for what amount.
Can my application include more than one purchase or project?
Yes, one application can include multiple sub-projects that contribute to an overall project or business enhancement. Applications with multiple elements should explain why each will influence the business as a whole. All applications should emphasize how the requests fit with the scoring criteria outlined in the Request for Applications.
Can grant or matching funds be used to purchase land or livestock?
No, grant and matching funds may not be used to purchase land or livestock. Eligible uses of funds are in the Request for Applications (RFA) for each funding opportunity.
My business or organization is not based in Vermont, can I still apply?
Businesses or organizations headquartered outside of Vermont may be eligible if the project or service being proposed is 100% focused on Vermont’s working landscape and businesses. Please contact Clare.Salerno@vermont.gov to discuss eligibility for out-of-state applicants.
Business Planning and Development Resources
Where can I find business planning resources to support my application?
Use the Business Plan Template to create or update a business plan. There are many business planning resources available to support this process. This document provides details on the stages of business development. Sign up for the Agriculture Development Newsletter to stay up to date on new resources and events.
Can someone help me write my application?
If you have an existing partnership with a business planner, they may be able to provide some support on your application. Otherwise, Working Lands staff try to make referrals to business planners to provide a few hours of general concept support for a grant for businesses that want that. Contact Clare Salerno at email@example.com or 802-917-2637 to see if that is available. Working Lands program staff cannot provide business advice or guidance on the content of an application, but Diana Ferguson is available to help with any of the technical aspects of submitting an application in WebGrants. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 622-4094.
Is there guidance on drafting the goals, performance measures, and expected outcomes for my project?
This page provides assistance on writing goals, performance measures, and outcomes.
I am a food business looking for distribution support. How can I connect with a food hub?
Visit our page on working with food hubs and distributors for information.
Do you know of other grant or loan opportunities that I can access?
Visit the additional grants and financial assistance page, as well as a full listing of grants offered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets. Forest businesses and organizations may be eligible for grants offered by the Department of Forest, Parks, & Recreation. Sign up for the Agriculture Development Newsletter to stay up to date on new opportunities.