It was a snow day in New England, but up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, in the little town of Hardwick, several people were gathered at the VT Food Venture Center, a local food incubator, to sign USDA Value Added Grant papers for the new businesses they are starting up.
The Michaud family of East Hardwick is launching Kingdom Creamery of Vermont, LLC. out of their newly finished processing facility on their dairy farm. They are producing ice cream, yogurt and a soft serve mix for local retailers. They received a USDA Value Added Producer grant for working capital purposes for marketing, processing and purchasing packaging and production inventory.
Marjorie Urie of Shadagee Farm in Craftsbury Common is making gouda cheese in her new on-farm cheese-cave. She has received a working capital grant to assist in the marketing and promotion, processing and distribution and to establish an inventory management system. It was her lifelong dream to make her own cheese and sell it locally. She will also be bringing an Internet connection to the family dairy farm to fully utilize the web for sales.
Paul Lisai is the owner of Sweet Rowen Farmstead, LLC in West Glover. He is finishing up the new on-farm processing facility and is going to be bottling and selling milk locally. The VAPG Grant will assist with working capital to expand production and marketing efforts as well as their delivery area.
The people who traveled the farthest in the snowy conditions were Carole Soule and Bruce Dawson, owners of Miles Smith Farm in Loudon New Hampshire. Their new product launch is all-beef seasoned bulk sausage. Their working capital grant will get them started with booking services, new E-Commerce website, processing, distribution and of course, increasing their sales and public relations within New Hampshire, Vermont and the Boston markets.
As the Business & Cooperative Program Specialist, I presented each grant recipient with a Partnership Certificate as well as pens to sign the appropriate papers. Having this grant signing event at a Food Incubator facility located in Hardwick, the “new” Agricultural Center of Vermont, is a reflection on how important it is to have the facility, the technical assistance and to develop the capacity to add value to the raw products grown by rural Vermonters. The Value Added Producer Grant Program helps Independent producers to increase their revenues by diversifying their production. The intent of the program is to help the farmers receive a greater share of the consumer’s dollar for the value added agricultural products they produce. The mission of the USDA Rural Development is to “increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for people who live in our rural communities. What better way to do that than through the Value Added Producer Grant Program.
For more information, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov