Gov. Peter Shumlin, Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross, FPR Commissioner Michael Snyder and the Working Lands Enterprise Board announced the first round of grant recipients from the "Enterprise Investment Area" of the Working Lands Enterprise Fund, with almost $220,000 awarded to 20 grantees representing sectors across agriculture, forestry and forest products.
The awards include funding for a barn for honey production, beekeeping courses and small-scale mushroom growing; a kiln to support Northeast Kingdom wood-based businesses; freezer space and a solar drying facility to increase production of cranberry juice and dried cranberries; and more.
"In Vermont, we are committed to supporting and expanding our value-added farm and forest industries, and while these individual grants are relatively small, they can make the difference in helping farmers and those who work our woodlands thrive and expand," Shumlin said.
"The Working Lands Enterprise Fund provides for a deeper investment in agriculture and food systems in Vermont, and represents a historic initiative by the state to advance Vermont's forestry and forest products sector in a way that has never been done before," said Ross.
"Vermont's forests contribute to our economy and well-being in so many important ways," said Snyder. "When we invest in our working forests and forest products businesses, we strengthen this pillar of our economy and we bolster the character of Vermont."
Enterprise Investments are one of three areas of the Working Lands initiative, with grants ranging from $3,000 to $15,000 for new and growing agriculture and/or forestry-based enterprises. The Enterprise Investment Area received 191 applications for a total of $2.1 million in requests from forestry, forest products, dairy, meat, berries, tree fruit, tree farms, maple, produce, honey, fish, horses, renewable energy, compost, specialty foods, fiber, hops, land and soil testing, and drainage.
The board will be making decisions on the remaining two investment areas (Grants for Service Providers and Capital & Infrastructure Investment Funds) during their May 21 board meeting. Strategic planning and fund development are also on the horizon.
Recipients in this round, by county:
. Andrew Bojanowski
$3,000 for "Infrastructure improvements to the current log laying yard to facilitate increased production and efficiency"
Eddy Farm Shiitake, Middlebury
. Sam Burr, Eugenie Doyle and Silas Doyle-Burr
$15,000 to "Install a thermostatically controlled water flow system to optimize trout and strawberry aquaponic production"
The Last Resort Farm, Bristol
. Ross Conrad
$6,000 to "Build an uninsulated barn for honey production, beekeeping courses and small-scale mushroom growing"
Dancing Bee Gardens, Middlebury
. Jay Wilson and Cody Hall
$8,000 for "Equipment for logging woodlots"
. Steve Holman
$10,000 for a "Comprehensive marketing plan to increase sales for member businesses"
Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers, Dorset
. Joel Currier
$12,000 to "Purchase a small kiln to support NEK wood-based businesses"
Currier Forest Products, Danville
. Shirley Richardson
$10,000 for "Market research and tactical marketing plan development"
Vermont Chevon, LLC, Danville
. Karen Freudenberger
$10,868 for a "New American custom exempt goat slaughter facility"
Vermont Goat Collaborative, Colchester
. Adam Hausmann
$10,000 for a "Walk-in refrigerator and freezer"
Adam's Berry Farm, Charlotte
. Bruce Hennessey
$15,000 for an "Inspected poultry processing facility"
Maple Wind Farm, Richmond
. Nick Rosato
$5,629 for "Equipment for wood turning and classes"
The Sculpted Tree, Winooski
. Alexander Hudak
$11,406 for a "CSA model where milled wood consumers (woodworkers, carpenters, etc.) could become member investors in the mill"
A.S. Hudak Lumber and Logging, Swanton
. Robert and Elizabeth Lesnikoski
$15,000 for "Capital for press building, freezer space and a solar drying facility to increase production of cranberry juice and dried cranberries"
Vermont Cranberry Company, Fletcher
. George van Vlaanderen
$6,103 for "Increased pork production and sausage processing infrastructure to both raise more pigs on pasture and increase sausage production"
Does' Leap, LLC, Bakersfield
. Sean Dalton
$12,000 to "Develop natural Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) made with Vermont timber & agricultural resources"
Timberhomes, LLC, Vershire
. Paul Lisai
$15,000 for "200-gallon pasteurizer to quadruple production capacity of milk"
Sweet Rowen Farmstead, LLC, West Glover
. Patricia Norton
$9,900 to "Convert the sugar bush to use a high-vacuum gravity tubing system"
Krueger-Norton Sugarhouse (KNSH), Shrewsbury
. Susan Alexander
$15,000 for "Bottling and capping equipment"
The Vermont Switchel Co., LLC, Cabot
. Joe Buley
$15,000 to "Purchase equipment that will boost production capability and efficiency of Joe's Soups"
Screamin' Ridge Farm: Joe's Soups and Joe's CSA, Montpelier
. Kelt and Kristina Naylor
$15,000 for "New equipment and frozen storage capacity to expand product line and increase cost-competiveness"
Sidehill Farm, Brattleboro
The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative is administered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation and Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The initiative is composed of the Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) and is responsible for allocating almost $1 million in grant funds. The board is made up of public and private sector members involved in agriculture, food systems, forestry, and/or forest products.
Information regarding the Working Lands Initiative, including investment areas two and three (Working Lands Service Provider Grants and Capital & Infrastructure Investments), can be found at VermontWorkingLands.com