2017 Grant Awards

In 2017, the Agricultural Reinvestment Fund awarded grants to 23 individual farmers and 3 collaborative projects to carry out entrepreneurial projects in agriculture. The grants were possible by generous support from the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. The projects increased the success of farm businesses in North Carolina in addition to serving as demonstrations of entrepreneurship and innovation for farmers both across the state and the country. Please read more about the grantees below!

2017 Agricultural Reinvestment Fund Grantees

Whitney Allen, Rocky Run Farm  ·  Forest Farming For Diversification On A Small Farm
·  Orange County  ·  
Rocky Run Farm is a beginning farm in their fourth season near Mebane, NC. They specialize in vegetable and egg production, selling to local markets including farmers markets and restaurants. The farm has been awarded $8,000 in order to increase production through the cultivation of forest raised products. The farm will use their 10 acres of hardwood forest to leverage their product diversity through the production of meat and eggs as well as perennial crops such as nut trees.

Kimberly Busse, Riverbirch Farm  ·  Rotationally Grazed Lamb For Direct Sale
Davie County  ·  
Riverbirch Farm is a pasture based lambing operation in Davie County. The family farm was started in 2015 primarily raising Katahdin sheep for meat and heritage breed chicken for meat and eggs. The husband, Matt, is also a Iraq war veteran and is part of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. The farm was awarded $8,000 in order to implement a pasture rotation system on the farm. The system will allow them to make the most efficient use of their small acreage and increase potential profitability through moveable electric fencing and a portable water supply.

Piedmont Progressive Farmers Group  ·  Sustainable Farming For Community Growth
  ·  Caswell County & surrounding areas  ·  
*Collaborative Project*
The Piedmont Progressive Farmers Group is a cooperative group made up of primarily small scale, disadvantaged farmers in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. This group’s purpose is to assist farmers with training, education, technical assistance, and marketing in order to increase farm diversity and sustainability. The group is receiving $10,000 to help with installing a facility for egg washing and produce storage to market and distribute products as a group.

Ben Mathison, Hope Hunter Farms  ·  Hope Hunter Farms Mutli-species Rotational Grazing Infrastructure
  ·  Chatham County   ·  
Hope Hunter Farms is a beginning farm multi-species farm operation near Staley, NC in Chatham County. Ben, his father, and his son are all involved in the operation where they are trying to rehabilitate neglected agricultural land and turn it into viable, thriving pasture for healthy animal products. The farm is being awarded $8,000 in order to install temporary fencing for rotational grazing as well as installing a centralized well that can provide water access to the animals. The infrastructure improvements will double Hope Hunter Farms capacity and greatly increase their potential income.

Jason Moore, Rockbrook Farm   ·  What’s Old Is New: The Return To Flame For Weed Control In Organic Row Crops
  ·  Person County  ·  
Jason Moore is a fourth generation farmer at Rockbrook Farm. Rockbrook is a tobacco farm transitioning to organic tobacco as well as high quality organic grains. Jason hopes to convert the farm to certified organic row crops in order to increase income and diversify economic opportunity through being able to sell into non-traditional commodity markets such as local malting quality grain buyers for the brewing industry and other alternative revenue streams that being certified organic will allow him to access. The farm is being awarded $8,000 for equipment to manage weeds organically with a flame weeding system that is innovative by today’s standards but a common practice before inexpensive herbicides were readily available for farming operations.

Piedmont Wholesale Flowers  ·  Establishing A Wholesale Market For Cut Flowers In The Triangle
Orange County & surrounding areas  ·  
*Collaborative Project*
Kelly Morrison is a small farmer with Color Fields Farm in Orange County primarily growing cut flowers for local markets. She is collaborating with 2 other female small farmers who also grow cut flowers: Jillian Mickens of Open Door Farm and Katy Thelen of Happy as a Coneflower Farm. The farmers are starting a collaborative marketing group called Piedmont Wholesale Flowers. Instead of each farmer having to market flowers individually through email or phone, the farmers participating in the group will be able to market and sell flowers in wholesale arrangements. The group will also be working with floral designers in order to create value added arrangements.Piedmont Wholesale Flowers is requesting $10,000 in order to pay for marketing and advertising costs, rent on a central location in the Triangle to do marketing and distribution, and a part time manager to oversee the group’s marketing activities.

David and Christine Parks, Tea Flower Gardens  ·  Growing Local Tea In NC: Farm Farm To Cup
  ·  Orange County  ·  
Christine Parks, and her husband David, operate the Tea Flower Gardens in Orange County. The husband and wife team have operated a nursery outside of Carrboro called the Camellia Forest Nursery for many years selling tea plants among other nursery items. The Parks have been harvesting from an initial planting of tea plants and have been processing the products by hand in order to sell to local markets. The farm has requested $8,000 for their tea processing project. Funds will be used to equip a facility on the farm that they will use to dry and package their tea products and increase their production capacity.

Mimi Strand, Wild Dog Farm  ·  Pawpaw Demonstration Project
·  Alamance County  ·  
Mimi Strand operates Wild Dog Farm in southern Alamance County. The small farm primarily sells direct to consumer through farmers markets and CSA’s. Mimi wants to establish a pawpaw orchard for the farm. Pawpaw is a native fruit to the Piedmont area of the South but it is gaining popularity among consumers. The orchard will provide a high value orchard crop to sell directly to consumers that could serve as a niche product for Wild Dog Farm. Mimi hopes that the orchard will also allow the farm to do educational events to teach consumers about the pawpaw, how to prepare it, and the health benefits of the product. Wild Dog Farm is being awarded $4,629 to purchase the trees and establish the orchard with irrigation and fencing.

Kent Williamson, GEH Farm  ·  High Tunnel Raised Beds For Commodities Yield Increase
·  Caswell County  ·  
Kent Williamson is a small farmer in Caswell County who is transitioning from growing tobacco to growing diversified vegetables for direct markets. Kent is installing a high tunnel on the farm for four season vegetable production. The farm is receiving $8,000 in order to equip the high tunnel with raised beds for optimal nutrient management within the tunnel. Kent will also use some of the funds to do marketing and demonstration on the farm to educate other producers in the area on transitioning into growing high quality vegetable crops for direct to consumer markets.

Andy Zeman, Benjamin Vineyards  ·  Fruit and More Fruit! 
·  Alamance County  ·  
Benjamin Vineyards in southern Alamance County is an operation primarily growing grapes. The project will allow Andy Zeman expand the operation’s product line through planting more perennial fruit crops such as blackberries, raspberries, apples, and other fruit species. The crop diversification will provide the operation with a wider revenue stream and less reliance on a single crop for income. The farm is receiving $8,000 in order to purchase the plants and improve fencing and irrigation.

Jordan Walker, Barking Dog Produce  ·  Creating Farm Efficiencies And Improving Food Safety 
·  Alamance County  ·  
Jordan Walker is a small scale producer in Alamance County growing vegetables and fruits for local markets. The major limiting factor for his operation is being able to keep products cool in post-harvest. Jordan is being awarded $8,000 in order to construct a mobile cooling unit for the farm to assist with harvest and distribution of the produce. In addition, Jordan will be purchasing harvesting containers, a salad spinner, and other equipment that will increase food safety and efficiency in post-harvest handling of the products.

John Campbell, Dinner Bell Farm  ·  EIEIO Processing and Packing Shed
·  Alamance County  ·  
Dinner Bell Farm is a small scale, diversified vegetable and livestock operation in southern Alamance County. The farm is selling to restaurants and operating a CSA to consumers in the central North Carolina region. The biggest barrier for the farm in increasing production capacity is the lack of adequate, efficient space for post-harvest handling. The farm is receiving $8,000 in order to equip a processing and packing shed that will be built off of a former milking parlor on the farm which is currently outfitted for cold storage of produce.

Jonathan Ray, Cates Corner Farm  ·  Cates Corner Farm Infrastructure Improvement Project 2017 
·  Orange County  ·  
Jonathan Ray is the 8th generation to farm the land him and his wife Audrey now call Cates Corner Farm. The farm is a vegetable operation supplying restaurants, a CSA, and various farmers markets around the Triangle region. The farm is receiving $8,000 to rehabilitate a historic barn on the farm to be a processing and packing shed.

Terry Boone, Boone Farms  ·  Northampton Shooting Preserve And Gamebird Management
·  Northampton County  ·  
Boone Farms is a mid-scale row crop operation in Northampton County. The farm is partially under a conservation easement in the Conservation Reserve Program with the NRCS. This land would otherwise not be viable crop land. Terry Boone wants to add value to the conserved property by creating a game bird habitat for recreational hunting. He is receiving $8,000 to build brooding houses for quail and other game bird species. He hopes that his hunting preserve could set an example for other farmers with wooded land to start similar enterprises and put Northampton County on the map as a recreational hunting destination.

Tim MacAller, Four Leaf Farms  ·  A New Twist On The Old Technology Of Root Cellars
·  Orange County  ·  
Four Leaf Farms is a small scale market farming operation in Orange County that was started in 1981. The farm’s major limiting factor to profitability is the lack of long term, post-harvest storage. Tim and his son have designed a low energy root cellar for the farm that will allow them to store onions, sweet potatoes, and other crops that need a cool environment to withstand rot. The farm is receiving $8,000 in order to install the root cellar. Tim hopes that the cellar will allow them to increase income by saving on crop loss in the post-harvest stage as well as increase crop diversification by being able to grow endives and other niche products that require long term cool storage.

Judy McPherson, Uwharrie Farm  ·  Converting Clear-cut Acres To Productive Farmland Using Multi-Species & Nature
·  Randolph County  ·  
Uwharrie Farm is a pasture-based cattle operation in Randolph County. Judy McPherson and her husband, Larry, are transitioning the farm to a more diversified livestock operation. The farm will also raise goats and pigs in a rotational grazing system with the cattle in order to increase diversity of products offered for direct to consumer markets. The farm will receive $8,000 to fence in additional acreage of cut timber land and to convert an old greenhouse into animal housing. Judy and Larry plan to improve the cut timber land through innovative rotational grazing methods to turn the land back into productive pasture.

Justin Miller, Cherry Hill Farm  ·  Cherry Hill Farm Commercial Tomato Production Improvement
·  Davie County  ·  
Cherry Hill Farm is a diversified vegetable and row crop operation in Davie County. In order to expand tomato production for wholesale markets, the operation needs a way to efficiently manage fungal diseases and post-harvest processing. The farm is receiving $8,000 in order to acquire a efficient blast spray fungicide applicator to tomatoes grown in the field. They will also install a tomato wash line in a processing facility to efficiently clean the produce to food safety standards.

Gordon Jenkins, Ten Mothers Farm  ·  Summer Season Extension For Micro-Farm Salad Greens
·  Orange County  ·  
Ten Mothers Farm is a small scale farm in Orange County supplying vegetables to a CSA and local restaurants. The farm is operated by two young, beginning farmers, Gordon Jenkins and his wife Vera Fabian. They are making the most of their small acreage by growing high-value crops intensively. They have identified cut greens as a niche product for the farm and plan to increase the value through efficiency of harvest and the extension of the growing season for the crop. The farm is receiving $7,582 for shade cloth, an electric harvester, and other necessary infrastructure to grow cut greens.

Carrie Harvey, Harvey Hills Farm  ·  Irrigation Well For Agritourism Expansion 
·  Granville County  ·  
Harvey Hills Farm is a farm focusing on agritourism in Granville County. The farm currently grows pumpkins and other ornamental crops and hosts groups on farm tours. The operation wants to establish an apple orchard in order to increase educational agritourism opportunities on the farm to learn about orcharding as well as cultivate a market for local apples in the Piedmont region. The farm is requesting $8,000 to install a well and irrigation infrastructure to supply the orchard with adequate water.

Matt Lawrence, Hawfields Honey House  ·  Honeybee Hive Adoption Program And Beekeeper Extraction Service
  ·  Alamance County  ·  
Hawfields Honey House is an apiary and beekeeping service that is operated by Matt Lawrence and his son. They manage their own hives for honey and pollination services but also want to rent beehives to other farms and residents in the area. The Hawfields Honey House wants to be able to increase capacity for the apiary by offering an extraction service for honey. The business is receiving $8,000 in order to equip a facility with extraction equipment and marketing in order to grow the extraction service portion of the business.

Jon Frank, Windy Bottoms Farm  ·  Mobile Poultry Processing Equipment
·  Orange County  ·  
Windy Bottoms Farm is a small, family owned operation in Orange County. Jon and his wife realized the demand for poultry products like eggs and meat and have focused on this to develop their farm. The farm is receiving $8,000 to acquire mobile poultry processing equipment for the farm to increase their capacity for on-farm processing of poultry. The farm will also make the equipment available to other farms in the area to support other limited capacity farmers in the area as well as make an income off of the equipment when it isn’t in use on their farm.

Julie Gupton, Tar River Poultry Initiative, LLC  ·  Mobile Poultry Processing Unit
·  Franklin County  ·  
*Collaborative Project*
Tar River Poultry Initiative, LLC is a group of female farmers specializing in the production of pasture-raised poultry. The group is limited in their capacity to process birds on the farm and sees a need for processing equipment on many farms throughout Franklin County and surrounding areas. The group is receiving $10,000 in order to create a mobile poultry processing unit that is a single unit built on a trailer that can be transported to each farm involved in the collaborative. The MPPU will also be rented out to farmers outside of the collaborative in the area to support other small scale, pasture based poultry operations.

Kelly Whitaker, Whitaker Farms  ·  Whitaker Farms “Farm To Market” 
·  Randolph County  ·  
Whitaker Farms is an organic tobacco and vegetable operation in Randolph County near the community of Climax. In order to diversify their income, the farm operation has added on-farm educational programs and agritourism to the farm. School groups from across the Piedmont will visit the farm and learn about the “farm to market” cycle of how food gets grown, harvested, and carried and sold at market. This program intends to educate children in the area on the importance of agriculture and eating healthy. The farm is receiving $8,000 to help with the cost of building the educational infrastructure specifically as an interactive farm market building for children.

Tenita Solanto, Green Panda Farms  ·  Green Panda Farms Facility Renovation 
·  Chatham County  ·  
Green Panda Farms is a beginning farm operation producing microgreens, herbs, and hydroponic vegetables for local consumers. Tenita Solanto is a female veteran who started the farm after careers with the military and in IT. She wants to expand the operation to a facility in downtown Siler City to provide products for wholesale and grocery in the Triangle region. The operation is receiving $8,000 to assist with that expansion by helping optimize the facility for optimal indoor growing conditions.

Henrietta Cummings, Edge Of The World Farm  ·  Expanding Our Medicinal Herb Production 
Randolph County  ·  
Edge of the World Farm is an operation in Randolph County specializing in the production of herbal products. The grow herbs for local markets for culinary and medicinal purposes. The farm wants to expand their products by establishing larger plots of high value herbal crops such as ginseng, black cohosh, and goldenseal. The farm also needs infrastructure for drying the herbs to make them ready for sale in local markets. They are receiving $7,860 in order to install a processing facility on the farm to dry and handle the expanded herbal production.

Michael Fine, Fine Farming Company  ·  Utilizing Customer Organization Software To Streamline Direct Marketing For Farmers
·  Davidson County  ·  
Janice and Michael Fine are a husband and wife team operating Fine Farming Company in Davidson County. The farmers want to expand their direct to consumer produce operation through greater customer service and increased enrollment in their CSA program. In order to increase their capacity on marketing and tracking CSA sales, the farm wants to adopt new software systems tailored to farms utilizing CSAs as a major revenue stream. They are receiving $6,140 to help design and establish software for their farm business. They hope that the project will also demonstrate to other farmers the use of business software to increase the profitability and success of diversified farming operations.

The map below shows the locations of the Agricultural Reinvestment Fund grantees. Click the icon in the upper left corner to select past years.

Food, Land & Sacred Stories - RAFI's 2024 Come to the Table ConferenceRegister Now!