In This Issue
Call To Action: Comment on 2015 Dietary Guidelines
Funding Campaign: Mountain People's Food Co-Op
May 14 Small Business Innovation Research Road Tour, Fairmont
May 14 Webinar: Small Farm Crop Insurance
May 19 Women in Agriculture Celebration
May 22: Meat Workforce & Processing Equipment
May 23: Links & Local Brew Workshop
May 27: Marshall County Fruit Drying Workshop
June 4-6 Try This Conference
June 12 Webinar: Alternatives To Antibiotics in Poultry Production
June 10-12 2015 BALLE Conference
June 15-16 WV Pasture Management Intensive Grazing Workshop
June 15-20 WV Conservation Camp For Kids
Job Opening: Heart & Hand Aggregation Manager
Job Opening: Kanawha Co. Culinary Skills Instructor
Volunteer Board Members Needed: Vermiculture Non-Profit
Webinar Recording: WV FOODLINK
Free SNAP/EBT Machines for Farmers Markets
Deadline May 8: WV Food Hub Mini Grants
Deadline May 15: USDA Local Food Promotion Program Grants
Deadline May 15: Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
Deadline May 15: Local Food Social Science Study
Deadline May 15:Food Co-Op Seed Grant
Deadline June 4: Climate Challenge
Deadline June 4: Food Security Grants
Deadline June 12: Environmental Education Mini-Grants
Deadline June 15: Try This Mini-Grants
Deadline June 18: USDA Farmers Market SNAP Support Grants
Deadline October 1: WVFMA & AHA Fresh Recipe Challenge
WV FSA Loans
Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants
What Propels The Sharing Economy?
Farmers Turn To GMO-Free Crops To Boost Income

The West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition is a statewide network of people involved in building West Virginia's food and farm sectors. Our interconnected goals are to improve access to healthy, locally-produced food for all West Virginians while helping viable food and farm businesses to grow.  The Coalition was launched in 2010 by the West Virginia Community Development Hub, but is on its way to becoming an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to food and agriculture issues. 


We believe that as West Virginia farmers and food producers become more directly connected to West Virginia consumers, the results include healthier people, greater business opportunities, stronger communities, and a unique economy reflecting our state's proud heritage of self-sufficient food production.


Read more on our website.  



West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition greatly appreciates the support of our funders, The Appalachian Regional Commission,The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, BB&T, Central Appalachian Network, Change the Future WV, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, One Foundation, US Department of Agriculture, US Economic Development Administration, Sisters of St Joseph Charitable Fund, and the WV Department of Agriculture.  This support enables WVFFC to continue to fulfill our mission.

WVFFC Staff & Board 
Elizabeth SpellmanExecutive Director
Megan SmithProgram Coordinator
Garnet BruellAmeriCorps OSMRE/VISTA
Cheryl BrownPresident
Mike KwasniewskiVice President
Rob HintonTreasurer
Brooke Nissim-Sabat Secretary
Joey Aloi
Mike Costello 
Marlo Long
Hannah Vargason


This newsletter provides a biweekly selection of news, events, resources, and ideas that are helpful to farms and food access projects in West Virginia.  Whether you are a producer, consumer, nonprofit organization, educator, agency or food-related business, there may be something here to help you with your work. The information in this newsletter is compiled by the  West Virginia Food & Farm CoalitionIn addition to this newsletter, we also offer updates on specific food and farm topics. To subscribe to special updates, go here and enter your email address.




Report: WV Food Hubs Gain Momentum at Heart & Hand Workshop

On April 22nd, 35 people from over 20 organizations involved in Food Hubs in their communities met at Heart & Hand's Market Place in Philippi, where the atmosphere was one of problem solving, information sharing, and camaraderie around one single goal: creating a new way for West Virginians to buy and sell local food. Read the report here

Feedback Requested: Farm Incubator Model for West Virginia

When and where will West Virginia grow the next generation of farmers? To answer that question, we are working with Downstream Strategies to investigate the feasibility of the Sprouting Farms & Food Production Center, which will be based in the Greenbrier Valley. The Center could combine a learning and land-leasing program, a farm resource sharing program, a production program and shared facilities with the goal of jumpstarting local food development as well as create a model that can be replicated in other areas of West Virginia. Click here for more information and to offer feedback. 

WV Farm Hiring & Labor Toolkit

If you have a growing farm business in WV and are considering hiring help, this toolkit is for you! This guide walks you through the steps to making good decisions when hiring, and demystifies the laws and paperwork you must follow to legally and profitably hire an employee. Developed specifically for WV farm and food businesses, the toolkit was developed through personal contact with local agencies & successful local businesses, and also includes best practices and resources. Click here to find the toolkit.

Public Invited to Attend Local Food Policy & Advocacy Training & Create Legislative Goals 

How can West Virginia see more success in the local food movement? One answer is by changing food policy. On June 16th, at the Summersville Conference Center, the public is invited to learn how to get involved in the leglslative process, and create a strategy to make their ideas for food & farm policy change become reality. To register for the $15 event, go to
NRGRDA to Launch Regional Business Accelerator & 'Flex' Office Spaces in Southern West Virginia by End of 2015

NRGRDA is addressing a need which regional entrepreneurs have identified through providing temporary and professional office space as well as an intricate and mentor based business accelerator to assist businesses start-up, expand or relocate to West Virginia. Each flex-office space will be called The Hive, and distinguish which city it is located within. This physical and virtual network of space and access to training will work to support the mission of the project. That mission is to support, educate, and increase economically sustainable businesses that will create employment opportunities strategically aligned with the areas of existing opportunities in the New and Greenbrier River Valleys. Read the release here

West Virginia Food News

Wheeling Continues To See Local Food Growth

"We are trying to get food and food access to our local community members, and East Wheeling is a good location for that because it's a 'food desert,' meaning there aren't any local grocery stores," said Kate Marshall, education director for Grow Ohio Valley. Read the entire article here 

Farm to Table Kingwood Website Goes Live

According to the WVU Extension Service office, there are more than 1,000 working farms in Preston. These large and small farms raise everything from produce to poultry to beef, and now there is a website that connects all these wonderful farms to the community and consumers. "The Farm to Table program website is the next step in connecting farmers with consumers and businesses," Main Street Kingwood Executive Director Robyn Hess said. "We envision a sustainable food system in Preston County." Read the article here and find the website here

The Green Grocer: Homegrown Resilience in Alderson, West Virginia
This is a great blog post about the new Alderson Green Grocer: "But 'I ♥ Food, I ♥ Alderson,' is more than a statement that rings true for me and members of the community; it is also a social media campaign responsible for raising over $31,000 to start a grocery store there. Surpassing the original fundraising goal that launched it, the Green Grocer just celebrated its first month, operating as a nonprofit and rooted social enterprise."
Locally Grown Food Movement Expands
WVFFC Director Elizabeth Spellman is quoted in this great article about the current "state of the state" for Local Foods: "The fact that West Virginia is seeing a huge growth in food hubs and is starting to see growth in CSAs is . . . a strong indicator of broad community support for local food in West Virginia. The next question is: how far can it go? That's what we'll be exploring this next year as we put together some market possibility studies to help give people better advice as to which markets are lucrative enough or worthwhile exploring."

National Food News

Farm to School Advocates Visit DC To Speak Up For The Farm To School Act of 2015 

WVFFC is a member of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. "This week, 24 farmers, school nutrition directors, extension agents, tribal representatives and farm to school advocates from 17 states across the country descended on Capitol Hill to share their farm to school experiences with their members of Congress. We met with 35 Congressional offices from both sides of the aisle, including Congressional leadership, the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. And what we heard was resounding acknowledgement that farm to school programs are working to improve healthy eating in schools and create opportunities for farmers." Read the entire article here
Judge Says Vermont Law on Genetically Modified Food Stands
Vermont law that could make the state the first in the country to require labeling of genetically modified food has been allowed by a federal judge to stand for now, despite opposition by food industry groups. Read more here.
Editorial: A Truce in the War Between Cities and Their Suburbs
"The success of Denver shows the value of cities, suburbs, and rural areas banding together to tackle economic development. Yet despite the benefits of this model, regional collaboration remains rare. Far more common is the example of cities and towns vying to undercut one another for the next big economic project-be it through tax breaks, government subsidies, or changes to zoning regulations." Read the whole article here.
Appalachian nonprofit links small farmers with big grocers
Great article about Appalachian Sustainable Development! "Inside Appalachian Harvest's 15,000 square-foot warehouse are massive coolers and packing equipment, including a 30-foot green conveyor belt-driven machine that cleans and dries vegetables. In the summer, the warehouse is full of farmers adding the brand's green and yellow labels to produce, often late into the night." Read the whole article here.
USDA Announces Record Number of Organic Producers in U.S.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that the organic industry continues to show remarkable growth domestically and globally, with 19,474 certified organic operations in the United States and a total of 27,814 certified organic operations around the world. The number of domestic certified organic operations increased by more than 5 percent over the last year. Since the count began in 2002, the number of domestic organic operations has increased by over 250 percent

Call to Action: Keep Environmental Impact in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines


To quote Mark Winne, "This isn't the Farm Bill; it's not the Child Nutrition Bill; it's not even Keystone; this is a blasť sounding report prepared by a panel of scientific experts whose collective wisdom will, if accepted by the secretaries, influence the physical health of every U.S. resident and the environmental health of our planet."


Before May 8th, will you go to and urge the U.S. secretaries of Health and Human Services and Agriculture to accept, in total, the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC)? 


To quote the report, "Meeting current and future food needs will depend on two concurrent approaches: altering individual and population dietary choices and patterns and developing agricultural and production practices that reduce environmental impacts and conserve resources...." Let's keep that language in there!

Upcoming Events in and near West Virginia
Do you have events that you want included in our newsletter?
 Please contact us ! 

Fundraising Campaign: Mountain People's Food Co-Op

Online, Morgantown


Mountain People's Co-Op is running a crowdfunding campaign to raise $35,000! They plan to use these funds to accomplish a move to an improved location, get the new space ready, and market the new location to the community. Here's their proposal for how the money will be spent: 

  • $15,000: Contractor labor (inspections, electricians, telecom, computer services etc.)
  • $12,500: Materials (dry wall, paint, flooring, display and kitchen upgrades)
  • 5,000: Moving costs (physically moving everything from the store to the new location)
  • $2,500: Marketing and outreach  (promo for new location)
Check out and support their campaign here!

Small Business Innovation Research Road Tour

May 14, 2015, I-79 Technology Park, Robert H. Mollohan Research Center, Fairmont, WV, $30


This is part of a national outreach effort to explore technology funding opportunities provided through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.


Federal Program Managers representing the $2.5 billion in early stage funding have been invited to attend a series of events alongside technology entrepreneurs and innovation supporters from across the United States.

Scheduled to Attend:

  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency (MDA)
  • Department of Defense - US Air Force (USAF)
  • Department of Defense - US Navy (USN)
  • Department of Energy (DOE)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Small Business Administration (SBA)
Registration available here

Webinar: Crop Insurance For Small Farms

May 14, 2015, Online, 3:30pm EST


Crop insurance is a critical part of a comprehensive risk management strategy. Matching operations with crop insurance options is important. In addition, identifying and matching a farm's overall business goals to other insurance tools is an important step in the growth and sustainability of the operation. 

Learn about crop insurance options, what it means to be in an insurance contract, how to think about the best options for your farm, or the farms that you advise and work with.


Register here

WV Women in Agriculture Celebration

May 19, Moundsville Center, $5



Participants will learn about Raised Bed Gardening, Risk Management, AgrAbility, Rain Barrels, and much more.

There will be a $5.00 registration fee to help cover lunch and additional program costs.  Vendors will be set up to promote their products that are grown or created in WV. Door prizes will be awarded throughout the day and each attendee will receive a free gift to take home.


Registration will begin at 8:30 am, and the program will be held from 9:00 am until 3:30 pm, with ample time for breaks to visit the vendors at the event.  Space is limited and registration is required, call early!  To request a registration form, call Joy Riggle at 304-242-0576 x 122. Read the event announcement here

Meat your Profit Potential Training #2:
Workforce and Processing Equipment

May 22, Swift Level Farm, Lewisburg


The WV Food and Farm Coalition Meat Working Group & partners VC2 and Natural Capital Investment Fund have developed a series of trainings for West Virginia's niche meat businesses. 


Join us along with founding GM of Alleghany Meats, Chris Fuller, Fuller Consulting and Bill Wulfensburger, CEO of MTS Equipment for our second training, focused on strategies for developing a knowledgeable staff and sourcing quality equipment and service. 


In the morning session, Chris Fuller will share workforce development best practices and lead a workshop for writing an employee manual that promotes productivity and profitability in the meat workplace. In the afternoon, he'll team up with Winchester-based MTS Equipment for a showcase of equipment and a demonstration. 


Visit for more information & to register.

Links & Local Brew Workshop

May 23, Swift Level Farm, Lewisburg


A full day sausage workshop with Chris Fuller from Los Angeles. Hands on, adventurous and delectable!
Break down muscles, grind and stuff, all local meats and herbs.
Finish the day with a pasture tour, local brews and local dinner from the days makings and other delights!
Interested? Contact - Tootie Jones, 304 661.6777,

Marshall County Fruit Drying Workshop

May 27, Marshall County Activities Authority Service Barn, $15


This is a one-day hands-on training workshop for those who want to produce and/or learn how to produce and market dried fruit products. The class is being taught by food processing experts. Topics include:
* Product and process development
* Ingredients and product safety
* Storage and handling
* Shared facility and marketing

 Register online here.

Try This! Conference

June 4-6, Buckhannon, WV Wesleyan


A conference for those working for a healthier West Virginia. Forty workshops focusing on a variety of topics including farmers markets, school gardens, bicycling and running programs, school-based health centers and parks. Registration is $100. Late fees apply after April 15th. Register here

Webinar: Alternatives to antibiotics in poultry production

June 12, 3pm, Online, Free


Poultry producers are frequently looking for treatment options aside from antibiotics. This presentation by Dr. Irene Hanning-Jarquin will provide an overview of herbs, spices and plant extracts as alternatives to antibiotics. Find information here.

2015 BALLE Conference

June 10-12, Phoenix, AZ


While this is a long way away, it is cutting edge and might spark something for someone! This conference is the national forum for visionary local economy connectors who are making a difference in their communities. And, after more than a decade of doing this work, it's clearer than ever that Localist leaders' efforts solving economic, social, and environmental challenges are paving a path to real prosperity for all people. Which makes Whats Working Locally the perfect theme for this year's conference.

The conference's eight conversation tracks follow the eight solution areas that together pave a path to prosperity, covering working models that increase economic inclusion, build community wealth, change what ownership looks like, and more. These are the most cutting edge, innovative, and important conversations happening in Localism right now - led by the brightest lights in the movement and their respective fields. Find more information here

WV Pasture Management - Intensive Grazing Workshop

June 15-16, 2015, Swift Level Farm/WV State Fair Grounds, Lewisburg WV


Two day workshop with Jim Garrish, American Grazing Lands
Monday -Classroom and pasture time focusing on stocking rates of species and forages followed by cook out
Tuesday - Classroom and pasture time focusing on cow/calf and other species
Tuesday Evening - Lecture at WV State Fair Grounds - WVU Bldg. Jim Garrish
Contact - Tootie Jones, 304 661.6777, 

WV State Conservation Camp

June 15-20, Camp Caeser, Webster County WV - $185


Supported by West Virginia University Extension Service, this award-winning camp has fostered an opportunity for young adults to connect to the land, explore potential career opportunities and learn more about the state's various natural resources for more than 70 years.


Camp registration is now open to high-school-aged youth interested in exploring natural resource issues ranging from wildlife and watershed management to soil and forest conservation. In addition to hands-on learning, the camp will also offer traditional camping activities such as nightly campfires, recreational sports and group activities.


Full and partial scholarship opportunities are available for both 4-H members and non-4-H members. 4-H members should register at


Those who register through the website before May 15 are eligible to receive partial scholarships. Registration and scholarship information for non-4-H members is available at

Job Opportunities

Heart & Hand Aggregation Manager

Philippi, West Virginia


Heart and Hand seeks an experienced, hands-on, creative and determined individual to serve as an Aggregation Center Manager to lead and grow a proposed aggregation center in conjunction with the Barbour County Community Garden Market.  This part-time position (20 hours per week) would begin immediately and reports directly to Heart and Hand's Executive Director. Job description and application here

Kanawha County Culinary Skills Instructor

Kanawha County, West Virginia


Essential Functions and Responsiblities:
The Culinary Skills Instructor is responsible for teaching participants in the Growing Jobs component of WV Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood Initiative.
Administers pre- and post-surveys and other evaluation instruments.
Gathers performance measures data and conveys them to Data Manager.

Job Requirements:
A bachelor's degree in: Culinary Arts, Food Service or Related Industry. Three years of professional chef experience and teaching experience is preferred.


Application and full job description available here

Volunteer Board Members Wanted: West Virginia Vermiculture Non-Profit

Philippi, West Virginia


This future Fairmont-based organization will be a vermicompost (worm compost) nonprofit that provides compost and garden planning services free of charge.


The primary objective is to greatly increase the availability of fresh produce for at-risk groups while advocating and demonstrating environmentally conscience practices such as re-purposed food waste and the use of organic chemical-free soil. 


We will provide compost to area schools, nursing homes, and community garden projects along with garden planning, design, and installation services for those who need it.  If design services are not needed, compost will still be donated to groups handling their own community garden projects. 


We will operate as a large-scale vermicompost facility that will produce 1,000 tons of compost per year.  Commercial sales to multiple markets will provide funding for 100% of all program costs.


Lisa Cress-Esmay is hoping to build a board of directors with relevant backgrounds in business finance, marketing, public health & nutrition, gardening, and  someone(s) who is/are highly active in the community or surrounding communities. 


Contact Lisa Cress-Esmay for more information at

(grants, awards, partnership ideas)

* Find a full grants calendar here, on our website!

To use this calendar, scroll ahead to see what grant deadlines are coming up.  Also look back to see what grants came out last year, so you can anticipate the same grants coming out in the year ahead. 

Webinar Recording: WV FOODLINK 


This excellent webinar, held in April, detailed the development and future of the WV FOODLINK website, operated by the WVU Geography Department. Find the webinar here.

Free For Farmers Markets: SNAP/EBT  


The Farmers Market Coalition has partnered with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to provide eligible farmers markets and direct marketing farmers with free electronic benefit transfer (EBT) equipment necessary to process Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. 


FMC will cover the costs of purchasing or renting SNAP EBT equipment and services (set-up costs, monthly service fees, and wireless fees) for up to three years. After their application has been approved, eligible farmers and farmers markets will choose their own SNAP EBT service provider from a list of participating companies. Transaction fees (for SNAP EBT, credit, and debit payments) will not be covered.


To read more and find an application, click here

WV Food & Farm Coalition Food Hub Mini-Grants
Deadline: May 8th, 2015


The West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition is offering three mini-grants of $3,000-$3500 each to support aggregation projects across the state. Grantees can use funding for a variety of projects, but funding must enhance the efforts and sustainability of aggregating local food. Specifically, funding can be used for startup aggregation/food hub projects or existing aggregators/food hubs for business coaching, addition of staff, equipment, marketing, or other tactics to become more sustainable and implement business and/or logistics plans. By the end of the grant period, grantees will receive business and production planning and will have authored a business plan.


Grant funds will be distributed by May 2015 and the grant period will run until December 31, 2015. Find the RFP here

USDA Local Food Promotion Program Grants
Deadline: May 15, 2015


The Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program provides a combined total of $26.6 million divided equally between its two grant programs. The FMPP provides $13.3 million to support projects for direct farmer-to-consumer marketing projects such as farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, roadside stands, and agritourism. The LFPP offers $13.3 million in funds for projects that support intermediary supply chain activities for businesses that process, distribute, aggregate, and store locally- or regionally-produced food products. For the complete RFP and eligibility information, click here.

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
Deadline: May 15, 2015 

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land.  Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands.


Landowners and entities interested in using conservation easements to address natural resource concerns can submit applications at any time to a USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service office. Applications must be submitted by May 15, 2015 to be considered for fiscal year 2015 ACEP funding. Though signup is continuous, funding selections are made at specific times during the fiscal year. Find more information here.

The RIDGE Center for Targeted Studies Grant Program Advancing Social Sciences-Based Research on Food Assistance and Nutrition Challenges in Rural America
Deadline: May 15, 2015 

The purpose of the RIDGE (Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics) Center for Targeted Studies is to invest in innovative social sciences-based research that explores the food and nutrition assistance challenges of rural people and places. The program is interested in a wide array of topics and issues. Proposals that focus on Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans, and other racial/ethnic populations, as well as children and low-wealth individuals/households, are strongly encouraged. Click here to read the entire RFP. 

Food Co-Op Initiative Seed Grant Program
Deadline: May 15, 2015 

Food Coop Initiative's Seed Grant program is designed to provide financial support during a new food co-op's early development, backed by the advice and guidance of our development specialists. We want to help co-ops move through the startup process effectively and efficiently. Our grant program provides proven resources to help you achieve success. These grants are made possible by the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Program, the Blooming Prairie Foundation, and donations from food co-ops across the U.S. Find the RFP here.  

Agriculture and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change Challenge Area
Deadline: June 4th, 2015


This AFRI Challenge Area focuses on the priority to mitigate and adapt to climate variability and change. It supports activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon sequestration in agricultural and forest production systems, and prepare the nation's agriculture and forests to adapt to variable climates. The long-term outcome for this program is to reduce the use of energy, nitrogen fertilizer, and water by ten percent and increase carbon sequestration by fifteen percent through resilient agriculture and forest production systems. In order to achieve this outcome, this program will support multi-function Integrated Research, Education, and/or Extension Projects and Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE) Grants applications that address one of the Program Area Priorities. Application and information here

Grant Notice: Food Security Challenge Area
Deadline: June 4th, 2015


The goal of the Food Security Challenge Area for FY 2015 is to develop agricultural production research, education, and extension to develop more sustainable, productive, and economically viable plant and animal production systems. This program will also develop regionally adapted crop cultivars and livestock/breeds that contribute to rural economic development and prosperity while enhancing food security. These investments will increase food security by improving agricultural production systems at the regional and national levels and by encouraging diversification of agricultural production. Eligible applicants include:

  • Others (see text field entitled "Additional Information on Eligibility" for clarification)
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • For profit organizations other than small businesses
  • Small businesses
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Individuals
Find the full RFP & information here.

K-12 Environmental Education Mini Grant
Deadline: June 12th, 2015


The Chesapeake Bay Trust Mini Grant Program was established to provide accessible funds to schools, organizations, and agencies for pre-K-12 Environmental Education to educate students about their local watersheds and how they can become environmental stewards and make a difference in watershed health. To accomplish this goal the program supports meaningful outdoor learning experiences around a watershed issue investigation including field trips, fieldwork, student-led action projects and schoolyard habitat projects as well as building teacher capacity to implement environmental education including professional development trainings and programs to advance environmental literacy in the Chesapeake Bay region.

What this funds: Meaningful outdoor learning experiences around a watershed issue investigation including field trips, fieldwork, student-led action projects, schoolyard habitat projects as well as teacher professional development trainings and programs to advance environmental literacy.

Who can apply: Schools, nonprofit organizations, community associations, faith-based organizations and more. See RFP for full list of organizations. Find the whole RFP here.

Try This Mini-Grant Applications
Deadline: June 15, 2015


Community teams that attend the Try This conference can apply for mini-grants to jump-start a community project. These are collaborative grants. Teams of at least three people who attend the conference can apply. 


An example: If a community decided they wanted a hightunnel greenhouse to feed a food pantry, for instance, community team might include the farmers market, the food pantry, the town government, and a local group that pledged to tend it. A sturdy mid-size greenhouse now costs about $1,000.


Mini-grants range from $500 to $3,000. They are available to community-based teams that attend the Try This conference. At least three members of your team must attend. They must represent three different organizations or institutions. These are competitive grants, with no guarantee of an award.


Click here for the full RFP. 

USDA Farmers' Market SNAP Support Grants
Deadline: June 18, 2015


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announces, through this Request for Applications, the availability of $3.3 million in competitive grant funds, to be awarded through the Farmers' Market SNAP Support Grants (FMSSG) in fiscal year (FY) 2015. 


These funds are intended to support "the participation of farmers' markets in SNAP by providing equipment and support grants to new markets and those currently participating in the program." The goals of the FMSSG program are to increase SNAP accessibility and participation at farmers' markets, and support the establishment, expansion, and promotion of SNAP/Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) services at farmers' markets. 


This is a new program, which may continue in subsequent years. Grant funds must be used to conduct tasks that are necessary for SNAP to operate at farmers' markets, and to increase the number and effectiveness of farmers' market participation in SNAP. 


Find the RFP here.

WVFMA & American Heart Assocation Fresh Recipe Challenge
Deadline: October 1, 2015


The American Heart Association and the West Virginia Farmers Market Association are partnering to put together the WV Farmers Market Fresh Recipe Challenge! We are looking for great recipes, showcasing WV Farmers Market products, to be featured in an upcoming recipe book. This is a great way to show off your skills in the kitchen and your pride in your WV farmers market! We want to change the conversation about what it is like to eat like a West Virginian, while highlighting fresh local products grown by the farmers in your very own West Virginia communities.


More information and the submission form is available here

WV Farm Service Agency Loans


Update, November 24: The FSA borrowing limit for microloans has increased from $35,000 to $50,000. Read more here.  

The WV Farm Service Agency (FSA) has received increased funding to assist WV producers in purchasing farms, expanding their operations and making permanent improvements such as construction of farm related buildings. Eligible applicants can borrow up to $300,000; to be Eligible applicants must have participated in the day to day management of a farm for at least 3 years.  The interest rate for a Farm Ownership loans is fixed with terms up to 40 years.  The current interest rate for August is 3.75%.  Lower interest rates are available if financing is combined with a commercial lender.  If interested, please contact your local FSA office for more information.

Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants 

This program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. Eligibility: Agricultural producers with at least 50% of gross income coming from agricultural operations, and, small businesses in eligible rural areas

Funds may be used for the purchase, installation and construction of renewable energy systems, such as:

  • Biomass (for example: biodiesel and ethanol, anaerobic digesters, and solid fuels)
  • Geothermal for electric generation or direct use
  • Hydropower below 30 megawatts
  • Hydrogen
  • Small and large wind generation
  • Small and large solar generation
  • Ocean (tidal, current, thermal) generation
Find more information here and contact the West Virginia Rural Development Office for more program specifics. 
Food for Thought
(Research, Publications, interesting articles, etc)

What Propels The Sharing Economy?


The booming business of digital transactions between strangers in providing services and goods relies on new ways of determining trust. Consumers say the 'sharing economy' is building strong communities.


Less then half of Americans have yet to use or even learn about the sharing economy, according to a new survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Yet of those who have jumped in, 78 percent say it builds a stronger community. Nearly two-thirds say peer regulation works better than government regulation. 


This is a window into how the Digital Age is altering the sharing ethos. The virtual economy between people is forcing new ways to determine the quality of character in each user. If the sharing economy is to expand and maintain a reputation of integrity, it will need to keep discovering ways to build trust in each transaction. 

Read the whole article here.

Farmers turn to GMO-free crops to boost income

Consumers, particularly on the West and East coasts, have demanded more GMO-free products because of health and safety concerns. And a number of major food companies have responded.

General Mills announced last year it will no longer use bioengineered cornstarch and sugar cane for its original Cheerios.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, the rapidly growing taco and burrito chain, is working to eliminate GMOs from its ingredients.

And Whole Foods will require labeling of all products sold in its U.S. and Canadian stores by 2018 to indicate whether they contain genetically modified ingredients.

Last year, retail sales of products verified by the Non-GMO Project - the top U.S. certification organization - rose to $8.5 billion, compared with $1.2 billion three years earlier. Despite the torrid growth, it marked a fraction of the $630 billion in total supermarket sales in 2014 estimated by Progressive Grocer Magazine.

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