**Editors: please note photos from the press event at Maple Wind Farm can be found here: http://bit.ly/1JYaANm
Today, the Working Lands Enterprise Board announced this year’s 36 grant recipients – 24 agriculture and 12 forestry projects – for just over $1 million in both Working Lands and Local Food Market Development grant funding. These projects impact every county in Vermont, and leverage an additional $1.8 million in matching funds. Investments were made to 26 working lands enterprises and 10 service providers for projects that increase production, expand markets, develop innovative technologies, improve water quality, and train the workforce that Vermont’s businesses need to succeed.
Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets Chuck Ross, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Community Development Lucy Leriche, and Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation Michael Snyder joined the selected grantees and other program stakeholders at Maple Wind Farm in Richmond to celebrate this year’s grant recipients and the success of the program to date.
“These grants fund critical leverage points in the supply chain,” said Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross. “They remove pinch points and open up commerce so that the economy can grow.”
Now in its third year of grant making, the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative has invested over $3 million into Vermont’s working landscape, leveraging close to $4 million in matching funds. As of December 2014, 23 completed projects resulted in 25 new jobs and a 25% average increase in total product output. Additionally, 91% of these grantees increased their capacity to fulfill new contracts.
Eleanor Leger, Working Lands Enterprise Board Member and owner of Eden Ice Cider, reflected: "This Board’s focus on investing in early and growth stage businesses can take an innovative idea, match it with technical assistance and create an opportunity for sustainable business outcomes which would not have otherwise been possible.”
The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, Act 142, is administered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board is an impact investment organization whose mission is to grow the economies, cultures, and communities of Vermont's working landscape by making essential, catalytic investments in critical leverage points of the Vermont farm and forest economy, from individual enterprises to industry sectors.
This year Local Food Market Development grant funds, focused on increasing institutional and wholesale market access, were made available through the Working Lands grant process to increase overall program efficiency and impact. These funds aim to increase the quantity of local food available in Vermont institutions by supporting the development of institutional markets and helping ready producers to meet these market demands.
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 small and emerging agriculture, forestry, and forest products enterprises. The Enterprise Investment area received 59 applications for a total request of $923,404 in funds, and invested $273,844 in 20 projects (6 forestry projects and 14 agriculture projects), which leveraged $250,000 in matching funds.
14 Agriculture Grant Recipients
- Meeting Place Pastures, Cornwall | $13,902 for grazing infrastructure , forage, and fertility improvements to provide custom grazing services
- Kingdom Creamery of Vermont, East Hardwick |$15,872 to purchase a fluid milk bottling line, packaging, and marketing collateral
- Tamarlane Farm, Lyndonville | $20,000 for the installation of an aerated static pile system for the composting facility
- Walden Heights Nursery, Walden | $12,600 to expand production and distribution of cider and juices by purchasing and installing a pasteurizer
- Bread and Butter Farm, Shelburne | $7,250 to build a washpack and processing kitchen for vegetable production, on farm events, and educational programs
- Peaslee’s Vermont Potatoes, Guildhall | $20,000 for facility upgrades to meet Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification
- Sandiwood Farm, Wolcott | $9,950 to build a production greenhouse designed for events
- Shire Beef, LLC, Vershire | $7,100 to purchase a compost tea brewing set and a skid-based pickup truck transportable sprayer to increase soil biological activity and retained carbon
- Vermont Hay Company, Orleans | $10,000 for working capital and a used trailer
- Laughing Child Farm, Pawlet | $20,000 for a sweet potato curing and storage facility to cure, store, and wash organic sweet potatoes
- Ploughgate Creamery, Fayston | $20,000 for renovations to begin dairy operations
- Wild Carrot Farm, Brattleboro | $12,375 for production and sales facility to help meet the growing needs of a modern horse-powered farm
- Green Mountain Sugar House, Ludlow | $15,872 to build a remote sap and pump house
- Windgate Farm, West Windsor | $10,000 to build facilities to develop a beef finishing program
6 Forestry Grant Recipients
- Vermont Tree Goods, Bristol | $20,000 for equipment in a new production facility that utilizes an innovative sawmill design to create product from salvage/cull grade logs
- Vermont Table Company, East Burke | $8,922 for an Epilog Laser Engraving Machine to bring engraving in-house
- Timber Gardens, LLC, East Haven | $20,000 to purchase a firewood processor
- Torrani Studio Craft, LLC, Eden Mills | $5,000 for machinery to expand its cookware product line
- Ogelby Woodworks, Waterbury | $5,000 for equipment to open an independent shop
- Vermont Wildwoods, Marshfield | $20,000 for creation of the first commercial wood spalting chamber
II. Service Provider Investment Recipients
The Working Lands Enterprise Board received a total of 41 Service Provider Letters of Intent for a total of $ 1,932,633; 32 Agriculture, 8 Forestry/Forest Products, 1 Ag and Forestry. The Board invited back and received 13 full applications for a total request of $617,196.22 in funds. The Board approved funding for 10 projects from 5 counties for a total of $418,716 in grants (6 agriculture projects and 4 forestry projects), leveraging almost $300,000 in matching funds.
6 Agriculture Grant Recipients
- Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) of Vermont, Richmond | $38,361 for collaboration that will grow new farmers in Vermont by expanding two agricultural workforce development programs
- Intervale Center, Burlington | $20,130 to develop and implement workshops and technical assistance for farmers seeking land to lease or purchase
- University of Vermont Extension, Burlington | $40,593 for development of commercial elderberry production, including an enterprise feasibility analysis, a grower coop feasibility assessment and on farm training workshops
- Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association, South Royalton | $22,500 for marketing assistance to modern and web based consumers, including conference workshops, webinars, and one-on-one technical assistance
- Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition, Middlebury | $33,219 to start a pilot program working with individual farmers to develop and carry out Crop Management Implementation Plans
- University of Vermont Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Burlington | $21,049 to help new Americans establish market presence with a comprehensive market survey, farmer-buyer meetings, marketing education, and educational resources for buyers and farmers
4 Forestry Grant Recipients
- Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Montpelier| $100,000 to strengthen the business acumen of forest sector entrepreneurs by engagement in business development workshops, and in-depth, one-on-one business advising and coaching
- Cold Hollow Career Center, Enosburg | $53,244 to build operator capacity for use with cut-to-length (CTL) harvesting system in Vermont’s northern forest by purchasing simulator systems and exposing students around Vermont to these systems through hands-on training
- Vermont State Colleges and Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center, Randolph | $39,700 to provide concentrated learning experiences focused on innovative engineering
- Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association, Rutland | $50,000 for innovation assistance and workforce development for wood manufacturers by use of communications and one-on-one assistance to help enhance the industry’s competitiveness in the global marketplace
III. Capital and Infrastructure Investment Recipients
The Working Lands Enterprise Board received a total of 32 Capital and Infrastructure Letters of Intent for a total of $1,070,537; 25 Agriculture and 7 Forestry/Forest Products. Of the 32 letters of intent, the Board invited back and received 10 Capital and Infrastructure Investment area applications with a total request of $626,314 in funds. The Board approved funding for 6 projects from 5 counties for a total of $317,400 in grants (4 agriculture projects and 2 forestry projects), leveraging over $1.3 million in matching funds.
4 Agriculture Grant Recipients
- Vermont Soy, Hardwick | $25,000 to purchase an automated tofu tray sealing unit to ensure a safer food product by minimizing the potential for contaminants in the packaging process
- Maple Wind Farm, Richmond | $67,400 for upgrades including a blast chiller for poultry, increased freezer capacity, processing equipment, and for a small retail building for their agri-tourism operation
- Scott Magnan’s Custom Service, St. Albans| $25,000 for equipment expansion for agriculture and soil health by planting no-till crops by upgrading a John Deere planter, and purchasing a Vertical tillage tank mounted manure injector that would be new to the region
- Harlow Farm, Westminster | $50,000 for the purchase of a vacuum cooler, upgrading loading docks, creation of additional storage, and additional ice making capacity to improve shipping and storage
2 Forestry Grant Recipients
- Vermont Greenwood Resources, Co., Waterbury | $75,000 to add chipping capacity and to develop a pulpwood concentration yard to capture additional value from harvested wood products
- Winterwood Timber Frames, LLC, East Montpelier | $75,000 for infrastructure upgrades for a bioregional wood building-material product line, including two dehumidifying kilns, a three phase power grid, an outdoor wood-waste burning boiler system and signage for the showroom
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. www.Agriculture.Vermont.Gov
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