HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Farm stands and farmers markets can expand their businesses and better connect consumers to nutritious, locally grown farm products through a federal grant that supports marketing and business opportunities, said Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding today.
The Direct Farm Sales Grant, which is funded by the federal Specialty Crops Block Grant program through the 2008 Farm Bill, provides up to $7,500 in matching grant funds to producers and markets selling directly to consumers.
"Pennsylvania is fortunate to be home to a diverse agriculture industry and more than 12 million consumers," said Redding. "Through the Direct Farm Sales Grant, we can build relationships between our consumers and the farm families who work hard to feed all of us.
"We've seen great growth in the number of farm stands and farmers markets in Pennsylvania, and have had a few of our farmers markets named among the most popular in the nation this year. These grants are an important way to support producers who are marketing directly to consumers and, in turn, bolster the local economy where they are located."
Applicants must provide at least 25 percent of the grant amount in matching or in-kind services. Grants may be used for the following eligible projects:
- Promoting an existing farm stand or farmers market through marketing materials, media outreach and advertising;
- Costs associated with opening a new farm stand or farmers market, including site selection, demographic research, farmer recruitment and sales potential analysis;
- The cost of developing a business plan for a new farm stand or farmers market;
- Producing nutrition education materials or educational materials about Pennsylvania farm products
- Purchasing tables, stands and other display materials for use in a farm stand or farmers market;
- Staffing costs to manage and operate a farm stand or farmers market;
- Outreach to program participants to increase involvement in food assistance programs; and
- Provide capital to farm stands or farmers markets to plant specialty crops.
Completed applications must be postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 23, and should be directed to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Food Distribution, Direct Farm Sales Grant Program, 2301 North Cameron St., Room 401, Harrisburg, PA 17110.
For more information about the grant program or to download an application, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and search "Direct Farm Sales Grant."
Media contact: Matt Tindall, 717-787-5085
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture