Monday, October 3, 2011

USDA Awards Big "Beginning Farmer" Grant To Stone Barns Center For Food & Agriculture

New York farm had visit from First Lady in 2010; Board Member Dan Barber is on President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition...
e Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is one of 36 organizations awarded grants from USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program for FY 2011. The 80-acre non-profit farm, educational center, and restaurant in Pocantico Hills, New York, garnered global headlines in September of 2010 when First Lady Michelle Obama selected it for a very special luncheon for the spouses of world leaders attending the 65th UN General Assembly. The White House chefs joined Executive Chef Dan Barber at his on-site Blue Hill restaurant to cook the meal. Barber is a longtime leader in the sustainable farming movement, and a Stone Barns board member. He is also the only chef who is a council member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. Stone Barns received a grant of $735,130. (Above: Barber, left, and Mrs. Obama lead a walking tour of Stone Barns during the luncheon)`

"I fell in love with Dan," Mrs. Obama said of Barber during her remarks at the luncheon. "He’s one of the major players in our efforts to encourage healthier living around the country."

The grant, awarded to Stone Barns Restoration Corporation, will help provide workshops, conferences, apprenticeships, online resources and mentoring services for more than 1,200 beginning farmers by 2014. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan (r) announced the grants on Friday, which are worth a total of $18 million and went to 36 projects across the US and in US territories. The grants will help people who want to go into farming but who need schooling in the business or marketing aspects of agriculture, Merrigan said.

“You can’t just love the soil. You have to love the accounting and books as well,” Merrigan said during a conference call with reporters.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program was established in the 2008 farm bill, and is run by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. At least 25 percent of the Grant program’s funding supports the needs of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as farm workers who want to get a start in farming and ranching, and those who are financially disadvantaged, Merrigan said.

Funds are available for more grants, Merrigan said, and encouraged organizations and individuals to apply. More information on the grants and applications is here.

FY2011 Grants were awarded to projects in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The FY 2011 Grant winners:

University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., $675,750 – This project will work with American Indian producers providing them with education on hoop house production techniques to grow more profitable specialty crops.

Sustainable Agriculture Education, Berkeley, Calif., $207,204 – This project will provide limited resource, immigrant and socially-disadvantaged farmers with an education and outreach program including workshops, field days, follow-up consultations and mentoring and networking opportunities with producers and advisors.

University of California, Berkeley, Calif., $745,506 – This project will focus on training minority, immigrant and limited-resource farmers and ranchers on sustainable production, food safety, financial literacy and market linking.

University of California, Oakland, Calif., $702,592 – This project will start AGROpreneurship to address barriers to beginning farmers starting and sustaining successful farming and ranching businesses in Sonoma County.

Center of Race, Poverty and the Environment, San Francisco, Calif., $50,000 – This project will build out a project model for training hundreds of beginning farmers in the South San Joaquin Valley on successful and sustainable farming practices while also creating community gardens, co-operatives and small-scale farms.

International Rescue Committee, San Diego, Calif., $644,244 – This project will develop innovative business and marketing models for urban farming and microenterprise in food and farming that can be adopted by many ethnic immigrant communities as well as lower-income residents in urban communities.

California FarmLink, Santa Rosa, Calif., $675,750 – This educational enhancement team project will join with two other groups to establish an educational community of groups serving beginning farmers through Individual Development Account asset-building strategies, improving the groups’ existing programs service delivery and project structure.

Farm Credit Council, Washington, D.C., $675,109 – This educational enhancement team project will work to improve beginning farmer and rancher training programs’ ability to provide financial education and enhance their success.

Georgia Organics, Atlanta, Ga., $608,361 – This project will provide beginning farmers training in production and management strategies, business operations, decision assessments and marketing support.

Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture, East Point, Ga., $675,750 – This project will develop a training curriculum consisting of classes, internships and mentorships focusing on production and management strategies, business management, marketing, market linkage infrastructure and legal strategies to access land.

Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $675,750 – This project will develop and Annie’s Project Farm and Ranch Transition Planning course which works to engage more women farmers and ranchers in implementing successful frm transitions.

Latino Farmers Cooperative of Louisiana, New Orleans, La., $103,700 – This project will address priority training needs of Latino farmers, including production and management strategies, business management and decision support strategies and marketing strategies.

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Unity, Maine, $742,464 – This project offers a 2-year package of education and financial support to new farmers in Maine, including mentorship, business training and scholarship support.

Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Miss., $479,841 – This project will create and distribute training materials and decision aids targeted to high school and college students who plan to enter farming and ranching.

Fort Peck Community College, Wolf Point, Mont., $523,816 – This project will develop a training program for American Indian beginning farmers; topics focus on business and financial management.

University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, $674,972 – This project, which targets American Indian, Hispanic, women and low-income farmers and ranchers, will work to enhance their sustainability through education, mentoring and outreach activities focusing on agricultural entrepreneurship and business and financial management.

Southern New Hampshire Services, Manchester, N.H., $78,889 – This development grant will assist the program in helping new Americans build sustainable farm enterprises that are consistent with their culture and lifestyle and that strengthen regional, sustainable food systems as a whole.

Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey, Hillsborough, N.J., $564,840 – This program will restructure how farming is done in New Jersey and make it a viable, affordable profession, increasing the number of farmers while bringing more farmland into agricultural production.

Glynwood Center, Inc., Cold Spring, N.Y., $90,768 – This development grant will assist the Glynwood Center in training beginning farmers focusing on production, business management, marketing and legal strategies.

Stone Barns Restoration Corporation, Pocantico Hills, N.Y., $735,130 – This training program aims to provide workshops, conferences, apprenticeships, online resources and mentoring services for more than 1,200 beginning farmers by 2014.

Empire State Honey Producers Association, Rochester, N.Y., $57,925 – This project will develop a “train-the-trainer” program to educate at least 800 beginning beekeepers over the next three years.

Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Rochester, N.Y., $747,263 – This project will provide apprenticeships, formal mentoring, workshops and conferences to beginning farmers in the Northeast.

North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, N.C., $566,523 – This apprenticeship project will connect socially-disadvantaged youth with mentor-farmers for one year, after which they will produce a crop for direct market and participate in university courses.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Raleigh, N.C., $703,800 – This project will train beginning farmers and ranchers in the Piedmont region of North Carolina on sustainable farming strategies with innovative techniques for food production and food safety with the long-term goal of developing venues for entry into farming and enhancing the educational network of farms in the region.

Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Poteau, Okla., $742,526 – This project will provide an in-depth, year long training course, beginning with business and whole farm planning, along with two tracks in livestock and horticulture. Participants will also receive mentoring to follow-up on knowledge learned.

Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa., $342,080 – This project will develop a safety and health best practices resource manual for new and beginning farmers and ranchers and develop hands-on workshops for teaching safety and health best practices to beginning farmers and ranchers.

The Rhode Island Association of Conservation Districts, Johnston, R.I., $148,853 – This development grant will help the program develop an incubator farm to provide beginning farmers with access to land, equipment and mentoring while they hone their skills and establish their businesses.

Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, $598,616 – This project will equip beginning farmers and ranchers with the knowledge of and ability to use online marketing tools to make informed marketing decisions to promote their agricultural operations.

University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt., $659,784 – This project will support the Vermont New Farmer Network, which will provide education, technical assistance, coaching and mentoring to beginning farmers.

University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, USVI, $391,844 – This project will support a training program for minority beginning farmers focusing on production and management, business and decision-making and marketing strategies.

Institute for Washington’s Future, Seattle, Wash., $435,679 – This project will create a training and technical assistance program to provide Latino farmers with access to resources, skills, financial credit, business and marketing information and other support that they require to start new farming operations.

Seattle Tilth Association, Seattle, Wash., $483,160 – This project will work with refugee, immigrant and other socially-disadvantaged farmers to help them create viable agricultural enterprises growing and selling mixed vegetables and small livestock.

GrassWorks, Inc., Hudson, Wisc., $742,464 – This project will start the GrassWorks Apprenticeship Program, which offers mentoring, apprenticeships and internships, resources and training to beginning dairy farmers.

Community GroundWorks, Inc., Madison, Wisc., $744,475 – This project aims to reach beginning fresh market vegetable and fruit farmers, specifically socially-disadvantaged and immigrant growers, with training, technical assistance and vital access to farmland to they can begin and sustain successful farm businesses.

Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, Spring Valley, Wisc., $227,345 – This project will enhance the in-classroom Organic University and develop an ongoing young organic stewards track at the Organic Farming Conference.

University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo., $670,890 – This project will create four ranch management practicum courses covering holistic, system-based ranch management concepts including production, ecology, economics and labor.


Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama. 

*Mrs. Obama and Barber are with Elizabeth Preval of Haiti and Yoo Soon-taek, wife of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the photo at top.

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