It was great to see that our friends over at Miles Smith Farm are amongst the recipients of a USDA grant for NH agricultural producers. For those of you who don’t remember, Miles Smith Farm was the setting for our “matador” video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67wY7FiuiDE) that hailed the beginning of this very blog. Congrats to Carol and Bruce as well as to Poverty Lane Orchards and The Big Farm.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA has selected recipients in 45 states and Puerto Rico, including three New Hampshire agricultural producers, to receive business development assistance and pursue marketing opportunities for agricultural commodities. Funding is made available through USDA Rural Development assistance under the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program, which was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.
“These grants provide the capital resources necessary for business growth and job creation in rural New Hampshire,” said Molly Lambert, USDA Rural Development State Director. “Through these investments USDA is strengthening the economic foundation of rural New Hampshire.”
For example, Poverty Lane Orchards, in Lebanon, plans to use their $100,000 grant to expand their craft finished fermented cider into new markets. The cider is fermented from specialized apple varieties grown in the Northeast. Poverty Lane Orchards boasts a large planting of English, European, and New World cider apples, many of which are not edible fresh. Once fermented the cider apples provide a stunning cider blend.
“We are blown away to be selected as a grant recipient,” said Louise Spencer, one of the proprietors of Poverty Lane Orchards. “This grant will help us to identify market distribution areas throughout New Hampshire, Western Massachusetts, and parts of New York State where we can expand production and distribution and serve as a model for others in this industry.”
In Madison, The Big Farm, a 21 flock dairy sheep operation owned and operated by Paul Priestman, will use a $15,000 grant for working capital to hire additional labor to produce on-farm sheep’s milk cheese. Priestman, a Beginning Farmer, also plans to use this grant to market and sale in expanded areas, yielding a higher per pound value for their liquid milk to high quality finished cheese product.
Miles Smith Farm in Loudon, owned by Carol Soule and Bruce Dawson, is receiving a $64,950 grant for economic planning activities—conducting a feasibility study, establishing a business and marketing plan for developing precooked, frozen, packaged meatballs from boneless, underutilized cuts of high quality beef. This small family farm raises ‘free range’ Scottish Highland Cattle, which produce lean and tender beef without hormones or growth stimulants.