Farm Cooperative Receives Federal Grant
The Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative, based in Whispering Pines, is one of five North Carolina groups awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The local program will receive $75,900 to continue efforts to increase consumer access to healthy food.
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan made the announcement last week.
Grants to farmers markets and farm-to-consumer marketing projects also went to the Watauga County Farmers Market in Boone, N.C. State University in Raleigh, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project in Asheville, and the N.C. Public Health Foundation in Raleigh. Grants range from $81,605 to $66,462.
"The benefit of these awards is two-fold for our communities - local producers will have more opportunities to market their products and North Carolinians will have expanded access to affordable local food," Hagan said. "Most important, families will be able to put more fresh and nutritious meals on the table for their families."
The grants were awarded through USDA's Farmers Market Promotion Program, which focused this year on increasing fresh food access in food "deserts" - low income areas identified as having limited access to fresh and affordable food.
"Agriculture is the largest industry in North Carolina," Hagan said. "I will continue to support initiatives that strike the right balance between protecting our farmers and our consumers."
In 2010 Hagan and Sen. John Tester, of Montana, made sure a key amendment was included in the Food Safety Modernization Act to protect small farmers from new excessive government regulations.
The protection was aimed especially at farmers who sell products at farmers markets.
The Sandhills cooperative links about 35 producers with about 1,260 households. Through a subscription system, residents sign up to receive weekly boxes of fresh produce including seasonal fruits and vegetables along with such specialties as pecans, walnuts, garlic and decorative pumpkins.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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