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Working Lands Application Frequently Asked Questions

How to Apply 

  1. Review the full Request for Applications for the complete details on eligible projects/applicants and the full application process. 

  1. Register in WebGrants (may take up to two business days). 

  1. Complete your application in WebGrants using the Application Guide by the due date. 

General 

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? 

Visit our funded projects page, blog, and Facebook page to read profiles of Working Lands projects.  

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. 

Application Process 

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. The RFA is typically released 2 weeks before the application is available in WebGrants to allow time to prepare and understand the process.  

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 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. 

Eligibility 

I am a previous WLEI grant recipient. Can I apply again this year? 

Past recipients of business grants are eligible to reapply if they received a grant of $20,000 or less in any year. If a business received a grant of more than $20,000, you are eligible to reapply in fiscal year 2023 if the previous grant was before fiscal year 2020. Applicants who have received Working Lands grants in the past should measure and report on the results of previously funded projects and demonstrate how continued funding will be used to grow or improve their operation. 

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.  

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? 

There are many business planning resources available to support working on your application. 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 diana.ferguson@vermont.gov 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.