RAFI-USA’s 2019 grant program received 90 applications, 83 of which were eligible for the program. We awarded 26 grants. Here are the highlights:
- $237,825 awarded to 26 projects
- 23 grants to individual farmer projects
- 3 grants to collaborative farmer groups
- Types of projects include: dairy, education, fiber, equipment, fruits, grains, hemp, horticulture, hydroponics, livestock, marketing, medicinal herbs, poultry, water management, and value-added products
- Grantees represent 12 counties: Alamance, Bertie, Caswell, Chatham, Chowan, Davie, Franklin, Granville, Orange, Rowan, Wake, Warren
- 7 recipients are former tobacco quota holders
- 12 recipients are current or former tobacco farmers
- ~ 49% are Beginning Farmers (under 10 years in operation)
- ~ 6% are Veteran Farmers
- ~ 51% are Women Farmers
- ~ 49% are Minority Farmers
- ~ 29% are Young Farmers (under 35 years of age)
2019 Grant Recipients
Howard Allen, Faithfull Farms – Orange County In order to increase seedling production for field cultivation as well as seasonal seedling sales, Howard will build a passive solar greenhouse. The temperature-stable environment will allow the farm to produce a wide array of products year-round, provide the capacity to increase microgreen production, and enhance their ability to propagate perennial plants throughout the year.
Teresa Apperson – Davie County Teresa plans to make tinctures, topicals, and edibles with their organically-grown industrial hemp. For the 2019 growing season, she will purchase a rotary evaporator which will allow them to extract the medicinal qualities from the plants in-house with less expense and loss. With new extraction equipment, Teresa’s more vertically integrated operation will translate into a reasonably priced, value-added product for her community.
Beverly Bowen, Blackwell’s Farm – Caswell County Beverly will introduce the production of various grain crops as a supplement feed for pasture-raised cattle. By supplementing grain as a food and protein source for her cattle, she will be able to increase the number of cattle grazed per acre, lower the feed cost for cattle weight gain, and reduce the need for pasture during drought and low productions seasons.
Kamal Bell, Sankofa Farms LLC (Collaborative Project) – Orange County The Sankofa Cover Crop Collaborative is an initiative between four farms within a 5-mile radius located in Cedar Grove. The collaborative will acquire equipment, like a seed drill, that will improve soil quality & crop yields, incorporate regenerative agriculture practices, and provide economic and educational opportunities for surrounding youth and community. Area farmers will be able to access the seed drill with the option to barter and exchange materials.
Kristin Bulpitt, Copeland Springs Farm – Chatham County The Copeland Springs Kitchen will be a space to create healthy prepared meals from their farm products. These ready-to-eat food products will fill an existing market gap for convenient, healthy food options with a target audience for families that don’t have the time, knowledge, or desire to prepare their own healthy food from scratch. Kristen will start with preparing two salads and one soup in the certified kitchen.
Jessica Carroll, Razin’ Cane Farms – Warren County Razin’ Cane will expand the production of their sorghum syrup through the construction of an enclosed building which will house their evaporator. The building will also include drainage and refrigeration to create a streamlined process for turning sorghum stalks into syrup. By setting up the evaporator in the enclosed building they will be able to cook down the juice into syrup faster and sell a higher volume of produce through farmers markets, local stores, and events.
Carolyn Cheek, JAC Farm – Warren County In order to address the lack of accessible grocery outlets in Warren County, JAC Farms will offer JAC Boxes – a weekly crate of fresh vegetables and fruits for $25 each. The boxes will include produce grown by JAC Farms, as well as nutritious recipe and meal planning cards. JAC Farms will increase their vegetable production through enhancements to their high tunnel infrastructure including, solar system heating and drip tape irrigation.
Lea Clayton, River Song Farm – Alamance County Green Heart CSA (Community Support Apothecary) will expand production and marketing through fence development at RiverSong Farm, an herb dryer, and website development. Building on the success of previous years, Lea will grow CSA memberships and sales through partnership building with local health care practitioners, development of new remedies for adults, children and expectant mothers, and offering more GreenHeart Herbal Classes.
Helen Crisp, HTS Farm, LLC – Caswell County This project aims to build the first commercial hydroponic facility in Caswell County. This project will enable HTS Farm to grow 365 days a year in a controlled climate, thereby increasing the productivity and sales of their farm operation.
Roger Dasilva, Dasilva Homestead – Warren County In order to increase the income stream of the meat and dairy goat production, Roger’s project will involve the preparation of previously forested land for rotational grazing as well as repurposing an existing structure for additional shelter, birthing, and milking space. The implementation of rotational grazing will increase the use of the land’s available resources while decreasing high feed costs.
Donnie Englebright, Englebright Farms – Granville County The project will involve the construction of a greenhouse to grow pepper seedlings to be later transplanted to the field. As one of the only farmers in his area currently growing peppers, Donnie knows that commercially grown peppers can result in increased chemical cost and higher crop loss due to unhealthy plants. The greenhouse will allow him to better control seedling growth and health qualities, translating into a more marketable product.
Mike Evans, Mike Evans Produce – Chowan County In order to help expand his produce business, Mike will reconstruct the packing shed area and purchase a larger cooler to store fresh produce like sweet corn and cantaloupes. This produce will be delivered directly to Food Lion and Harris Teeter stores in his area.
Chantel Johnson, Off the Grid in Color – Rowan County Off Grid in Color’s project will expand the value-added poultry products available to customers for increased meal prep convenience and year-round availability. This will include increasing the variety and quantity of turkey portions such as, halves, quarters, wings, and legs in addition to value-added chicken and turkey, which will include: seasoned wings and legs, ground meat, seasoned ground meat, and ground patties.
Tracy Leonard, Billy Wood Farm-Wood’s Strawberries – Franklin County In order to process unsold fruits and vegetables, Tracy will convert the kitchen in an existing farmhouse into a certified kitchen. This certified kitchen will be the first of its kind in the area and will allow Tracy to process fruits and vegetables more efficiently into products like jam and ice cream.
Elke McCalla, Rocky Ridge Farm – Franklin County In order to produce crops year-round, Rocky Ridge Farm will retrofit their existing passive solar greenhouse with a geo-thermal air system for heating and cooling purposes. They will also install a vertical hydroponic system for lettuce, greens and herbs which will increase their production while conserving space and resources.
Fred Miller, Hilltop Farm of Willow Springs – Wake County Fred will retrofit an existing high tunnel from a soil based to a hydroponic production system with electricity, running water, and heating & cooling capabilities. The fully heated greenhouse will extend his production to year round while the installation of a cooling wall and ventilation will allow him to grow lettuces in greens in hotter months.
Chris Morgan, Hopeful Acres Farm – Rowan County With the increase in small sustainable farms in Rowan and surrounding counties there is a need for small square hay bales, and straw, for feed and bedding for livestock. With the purchase of a stackliner hay wagon, Hopeful Acres will begin selling square hay bales and straw bales to local farms. This self-loading hay wagon will allow Chris to add a new income stream to farm while also supporting the needs of surrounding sustainable farms.
Tonya Nunally, Legacy Acres – Caswell County The project will support the purchase of a blueberry Easy Harvester and construction of a packing shed. This will allow Tonya to plant twice as many blueberries, harvest her crop more efficiently, and have more space to package the blueberries.
LaTonya Pennix, Mourning Dove Farm – Caswell County LaTonya’s project will renovate and restore their current roadside stand. This will include the installation of a concrete pad and refurbishment of a walk-in cooler which will allow them to store produce. In addition to the cooler, they will make a lean-to shelter, make minor repairs to the stand, and add roadside signage to boost their marketing.
Chase Reynolds, Two Pigs Farm – Rowan County Chase’s project will decrease the high cost of livestock and poultry feed by enhancing a food waste composting system that will produce soldier fly larvae for his free range laying hens. This will include the use of a dump trailer to haul more food waste, a greenhouse installed over the chicken yard, and protapods that can efficiently convert food waste into larvae each day. A new nesting box will also increase the efficiency of his laying chickens while decreasing wash time.
Jeffrey Carroll, Warren County Food Hub (Collaborative Project) – Warren County The Warren County Farmers Food Hub will be a distribution point for local farmers to sell their produce to the wholesale and retail markets. This will involve the construction of a distribution and storage site. The project will offset the cost of refrigeration and washing station expenditures.
Tri Sa, Transplanting Traditions Community Farm – Orange County In order to earn more farm income year-round, Tri will install hoophouses to increase production and membership for her winter vegetable CSA. She will install gothic-shaped caterpillar tunnels in order to increase winter production. This style of tunnels is affordable, moveable, and allows easier removal of snow. When Tri reaches her goal of purchasing her own land, she will be able to move this season extension infrastructure with her.
Ben Solomon, Faith Farm Supply – Caswell County Faith Farm Supply will retrofit a trailer for refrigeration, processing, and storage. This mobile, refrigerated trailer will allow them to process and quickly cool produce in remote harvest locations and provide CSA order storage. Ben will take the trailer to local farmers markets and visit various business parks over lunchtime which will address a previous challenge of selling produce at the beginning of the week.
Grace Summers, Summers Farm (Collaborative Project) – Caswell and Alamance Counties This collaborative project combines the production of free-range livestock, poultry, vegetables, and industrial hemp with livestock serving as the main source of organic fertilizer. As hemp is a new venture for the farms, a greenhouse will be installed to grow the hemp transplants. They will also fence in some paddock areas of the farm in order to rotate poultry and pigs as the hemp crop will need to rotate with other cover crops.
Ronara Swain, Swain’s Farm – Bertie County Ronara will build a produce washing station, a pole barn to place the washing station under, and a coolbot cooler. This will allow him to process and store his produce using good farming practices with the hopes of becoming GAP certified.
Randall Williams, Fireside Farm, LLC – Orange County This project will support the design and implementation of a water management plan at Fireside Farm. In an era of climate disruption and intense rain events, the water management plan will be a model for resilience and provide an educational opportunity for the surrounding community.