New England Farmers Union was awarded two of 385 grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Development Grant program. The USDA committed $20 million in funds across the nation to help support the start-up or expansion of rural small businesses.
The education foundation of the New England Farmers Union received funding for our work on co-operative development and support for beginning farmers. Here are descriptions of the two projects:
- We received $22,000 to support co-operative enterprise development in Connecticut. Partnering with the Neighboring Food Co-operative Association, we will deliver technical assistance to two food co-ops, one on their transformation to an actual co-op from a nonprofit and other support, and the other in implementing a Healthy Food for All program that allows food co-ops to offer discounts to members who are income-eligible. We will also be advising a farmer in Morris, CT, on options for forming a co-operative food kitchen that would serve area farms and food entrepreneurs.
- Our $20,000 grant funds beginning farmer classes in Rhode Island. We worked with the Young Farmer Network, NOFA-RI, Farm Fresh RI, the University of RI, and others to support the coordination of a series of winter workshops geared to the needs of beginning farmers on subjects such as small engine repair, irrigation, business planning, taxes and record-keeping — in essence, classes on subjects that will make a meaningful contribution to the success of beginning farmers.
Thank you to the USDA, and congratulations to all the other recipients of these grants, which will strengthen agriculture and rural communities.