• 11Apr

    Don’t Miss Out on the 2015 Value-Added Producer Grant Program! 

    The USDA Value-Added Producer Grant Program expects to announce a call for applications this April! This is a great opportunity to plan a value-added business or to help fund early stage working capital expenses.  Grants of up to $75,000 for business planning and up to $200,000 for working capital were made last year.

    “Value-added” is defined quite generously by the USDA.   Not only does it mean changing the physical state of your raw product, but it can mean the fact that you are marketing and branding your fresh product as local, or by your means of production, such as organically grown.

    This year is one of the best years to apply.   More projects will be funded this year than usual due an exceptionally large pool of funding – $41M nationally. And a new consideration for military veterans is expected in the announcement.

    The application is long and detailed, requiring much thought and planning.

    There is a 50% matching funds requirement. So please, investigate this program now atwww.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG_Grants.html to find out if it can help you achieve your business goals. Start on your application even before the federal announcement if it is not already out. Use last year’s application toolkit.

    Use free Grants Advising, made possible by the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute ,by contacting Deirdre Birmingham at deirdreb4@gmail..com or 608-219-4279.

  • 15Jan

    1-WEEK WITH SANDOR KATZ THIS MAY: Wild Food & Fermentation Workshop [+Top Local Teachers]. Save $444 in Jan.

    Learn hands-on, age-old, health-enhancing techniques for increasing the nutritive and healing properties of your food through fermentation. Gain take-home skills in safe foraging and preparation of wild plants, weeds, medicines, and mushrooms! This comprehensive workshop is led by the world renowned fermentation expert, and New York Times best selling author, Sandor Katz. He will lead you in daily hands-on fermentation projects and classes. Along with Sandor, five of Asheville’s top wild food experts -Alan Muskat, Natalie Bogwalker, Marc Williams, Asia Suler, and Luke Cannon- will take you on field excursions to discover, taste, and learn how to work with nutritional edibles you can find most anywhere. Demonstrations, lectures, food tastings, and community gatherings will all be included. In this workshop, you will learn how to nourish yourself and heal your body with fermented foods, as well as identify and prepare wild and medicinal edibles that you can integrate into your kitchen and daily diet. If you are a food connoisseur, aspiring naturalist, chef, health professional, urban homesteader, or hungry student, you will gain life-long wisdom from this week-long immersion.

    Location & Dates: Ashevillage, NC, May 24-30, 2015

    Details: www.Ashevillage.org/Wild-Food-Fermentation-Workshop

    Other Programs in Asheville:

    Living Water Systems Apprenticeship, April 20-July 10, 2015

    Natural Building & Carpentry Apprenticeship, July 5-September 25, 2015

    Permaculture School: Design Ecology & Living Skills, May 23-August 14, 2015

    Water Retention Landscape Course, June 1-5, 2015

    Natural Building Workshop, July 6-10, 2015

  • 29Dec


    Geared to small scale producers of preserves, sauces, dressings and vinegars, snacks, baked goods and other  value-added products

    DATE:                 Monday, February 2, 2015

    TIME:                9:00am to 4:00pm

    LOCATION:    Spokane, WA (exact location TBD)

    FEE:                   $95, general  admission (pre-registration is required)

    Lunch, beverages and course packet included.

    INSTRUCTORS: Fred Berman, Project Manager, NABC Girish Ganjyal, Food Processing Specialist, WSU

    This workshop will provide the region’s small scale prepared food producers with up-to-date information and technical knowledge of the food product development process for the specialty food industry and how to bring such products to market – targeted to start-up entrepreneurs and food product developers.

    Students will be walked through the various steps from concept development to the market. There will be an emphasis on the factors to be considered for scaling up the product from the kitchen to commercial production. Numerous examples will be provided to illustrate the steps and end goal.  Along with the aspects of product development, the course will cover product cost calculations, with real-world business examples.

  • 16Nov

    What Does “Good Farming Practices” Really Mean? GFP are the procedures a farmer must employ in order to receive a full crop insurance indemnity when they have a loss.  A farmer’s indemnity payment is reduced based on the amount of the loss that is attributed to their failure to employ GFP. A well-defined standard for the production of a crop (aka GFP) reduces the moral hazards associated with federally subsidized crop insurance because a farmer that does not care for their crops up to the standard, cannot receive their full indemnity, thus having the standard encourages them to at least meet it.  The history of federal crop insurance includes numerous instances of anemic attempts to grow a crop, episodes that took place only because of the existence of highly subsidized insurance…

    USDA Releases Guidance Documents for Conservation Initiatives In the final days of October, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided its state NRCS offices with national guidance on when and how to administer various conservation initiatives for fiscal year 2015.  The initiatives are funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Agricultural Management Assistance program…

    Dairy Farmer Uses Grant for Value-Added Cheese Production From asiago to brie to cheddar, cheese is beloved by cultures around the world and found in cuisines from Sweden to South Africa.  And for producers, capitalizing on humanity’s love affair with cheese just makes sense.  Turning milk into mozzarella is a classic example of value-added production, and it earned Kansas dairy farmer Jason Wiebe a $120,000 value-added producer grant from the in 2014…

  • 24Sep

    Fair Food Business Boot Camp, Wellesley MA December 2-4, 2014 – Apply today

    WHAT: 3-day intensive skill-building program giving good food entrepreneurs the knowledge and resources they need to grow—plus the potential to win up to $10,000 in consulting services. Led by Jay Friedlander, College of the Atlantic’s Sustainable Business Program chair and organic food entrepreneur.

    WHERE: Hosted by Food Sol at Babson College in Wellesley, MA;      WHEN: December 2–4, 2014

    WHO: Food system entrepreneurs who are remaking our food system to support the viability of small and mid-size farms in the Northeastern U.S. Read more »

  • 23Sep

    Good Food Business Accelerator to be Launched by FamilyFarmed.org

    Strategic partnerships with Whole Foods Market, UNFI, and SBA Make the Accelerator a National Leader in Advancing Sustainable Food Businesses

    “Accelerating Good Food” Event to be Held October 1 at 1871

    The Good Food Business Accelerator (GFBA), a major new fellowship program for regional food and farm entrepreneurs, is being launched this month by FamilyFarmed.org. A non-profit organization, FamilyFarmed.org has been promoting local, sustainable, humane, and fair food for more than 15 years.

    The GFBA is headquartered at 1871, Chicago’s center for digital technology and innovation, and will be its first tenant focused on encouraging broad-based food entrepreneurship. The GFBA also will be the nation’s first business accelerator focused on building supply chains of sustainable local food.

    “The Good Food Business Accelerator aligns perfectly with 1871’s mission to foster economic and job growth by facilitating the efforts of creative entrepreneurs across every important market sector,” said Howard A. Tullman, CEO of 1871. “FamilyFarmed.org already has had a major impact in this industry and will open up important new avenues at 1871 for businesses in the thriving Good Food sector.”

    Applications for the first class of Fellows are now being accepted. Businesses eligible to compete for the fellowships include food artisans, consumer packaged goods companies, farmers, technology firms, food hubs, restaurants, retailers, and foodservice providers. Read more »

  • 11Mar

    Internship on Organic Farm and Value-Added Operation in Michigan, 2013

    Food for Thought Farm is a certified organic farm based in northwest Michigan.  The operation includes: a small on-farm, organic, value-added bottling facility to make organic and fair trade specialty foods; managed forests for wild leek harvesting; cultivation of a little under an acre of organic lavender flowers, basil, onions and peppers used as ingredients in bottled products.  There is also a staff garden and chicken coop.

    The farm is seeking an intern for the 2013 season. Duties include the maintenance of organic waste processing via composting and vermiculture; growing herbs and specialty crops for use in products, managing the chicken coop and staff garden. There will be opportunities for harvesting wild leeks in our forest in early Spring.

    For more information and how to apply, click read more

    Read more »

  • 11May

    Ramps, the wild leeks of the woods are in season here up north and many farmers are harvesting them to sell to co-ops, restaurants, at farmers markets, and including them in early CSA boxes.

    Ramps Wild Leeks

    Freshly harvested Ramps


    Many specialty food stores are selling them for over $10 per pound! They are wonderful tasting and easy to harvest. When they are young you can eat the leaves as well as the shoots (just like a scallion).

    The ones in the picture to the right we got this morning while we were morel hunting.

    At this time of the year they are tender and sweet. when they get older the bottom part can be chopped up and used like a leek or a green onion in all sorts of wonderful dishes.

    Pickled Ramps

    Pickled Ramps

    We actually pickle these bottom parts of the older ones, and eat them all year. They’re great on a cracker, in a salad, or just on their own.

    Some people worry that the value of these wild delicacies are causing them to be over-harvested in many places. I’ve not seen evidence of this myself, but try to leave parts of every patch I find so they will come up the next year.

    Look for them in the understory in older woodlands where hardwood trees grow.

    Ramps, are well worth the time they take to find, harvest, clean, and even pickle.

    - Taylor

  • 25Feb

    From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

    On Wednesday, February 23,  Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan held a press conference call regarding today’s release of the interim final rule for the Value-Added Producer Grant program.  Calling VAPG “one of my all time favorite programs,” Merrigan spoke about how the grants fund innovation and entrepreneurship among American farmers and ranchers and provide opportunities to expand the nation’s economy.

    Specific to the interim rule, the Deputy Secretary said the agency “really took to heart the input we had from the public” and then noted several changes from the proposed rule that are consistent with comments submitted by NSAC and its members.  For example, outlined in the interim rule, applicants can count time spent as an in-kind contribution up to 25 percent of the total project’s cost.  Explains Merrigan, “this is really important because there is no one who will be working harder than the entrepreneur.”

    Other achievements for NSAC and its member that Merrigan discussed included a greater emphasis on mid-tier value chains that “will go a long way for regional food systems” and an increase in the threshold for medium-sized farms to $1 million in annual gross sales, which benefits agriculture of the middle.

    In an effort to raise awareness about the substantial and widespread possibilities and benefits of VAPGs, Merrigan created a video in which she tests several value-added products that have received funding through the program. Click here to read the USDA press release about the interim rule and here to watch the video from the USDA test kitchen.

    Finally, Merrigan confirmed that the much-anticipated Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA) for the next grant period is forthcoming.  NSAC will notify its members when this occurs.

  • 21Dec

    Title: Valued-Added Products Business Manager, ADAMAH Farm + CSA

    Type: Full-time

    Location: Falls Village, CT

    Compensation: Competitive Salary and Benefits. On-site housing is available.

    Position begins May 2011.

    The Value-Added Products Business Manager will oversee all operations of the Adamah Value-Added Products Business, including production (10%), marketing, sales and distribution (65%) and Adamah faculty (25%). Read more »

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