U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has announced that the Ohio Department of Agriculture received $809,199 in federal funds to increase the competitiveness of specialty crops including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops. Brown helped secure The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funds in the 2008 Farm Bill. This funding will be distributed to 18 Ohio projects that support small, local producers by promoting direct marketing opportunities.
"These funds will help ensure that Ohio's specialty crop farmers can succeed in their own communities," Brown says. "Expanding opportunities for specialty products to be sold will enable more fresh, local foods to be available to Ohioans."
Below is a list of the ODA partnerships made possible by SCBGP funding:
Appalachian Center for Economic Networks:
This project will develop and scale a financially-sustainable membership association to include the marketing and promotion of farm fresh and "fresh cut" specialty crops through collaborative branding campaigns. The program will also educate Appalachia Ohio farmers and organic growers of fresh fruits and vegetables on the market opportunities, product development, and processing technologies to package "fresh cut," "fresh packed" or frozen food institutional packs.
Center for Innovative Food Technology:
This project will identify the unique aspects of urban production that increase the chances of potential introduction of harmful microorganisms. The results will be included in a training program on Good Agricultural Practices to educate specialty crop growers and organizations actively pursuing food production.
Innovative Farmers of Ohio:
This project will explore the production of pumpkin seed as a healthy, locally grown, processed, and marketed snack food.
Mid-Ohio Food Bank:
This project will identify specialty food crops that can help the members of Columbus-area ethnic communities to maintain healthy diets and make traditional dishes using fresh, local produce.
Midwest Apple Foundation
This project will provide qualified local assistance to growers to evaluate 15,000 seedling apple trees. They will then use grower and marketer assistance to evaluate the top 1 percent, and distribute the top 0.5 percent for advanced testing.
Ohio Department of Education
This project will increase knowledge and consumption of specialty crops, in addition to opening up new markets for specialty crop producers through Ohio schools.
Ohio Grape Industries Committee
This project will extend Ohio Wine TV, an online virtual wine tasting/tour program to include regional-based videos.
Ohio Produce Growers & Markets Association
This project will teach and encourage Ohio vegetable and fruit growers to implement practices in their operations that will minimize or eliminate their potential to source fresh produce-borne disease organisms and to help them to maintain or increase their customer base in preparation of a development of a state produce agreement.
Ohio Wine Producers Association
This project will support meetings that serve as networking and building opportunities for established wineries and for new wineries interested in launching a business.
The Ohio State University
This project will determine the feasibility of developing specialty crop marketing cooperatives by conducting a market analysis and developing draft business plans.
This project will provide continuing education sessions for the local delivery of focused, in-depth training in best practices for production of fresh fruits and vegetables.
This project will develop a new small fruit industry for currants and gooseberries, which are known commercially as ribes, and will propagate sustainable production practices tailored to Ohio growing conditions. These funds will also be used to train new ribes growers about marketing and production plans. Education about production, specific ribe varieties, and growing conditions could produce stronger crop yield, better pest management practices, and valuable phenology data.
This project will provide scientific data in support of food safety recommendations specific for Ohio vegetable producers.
This project will resolve the persistent problem of weed control by conducting applied research that will lead to new bramble control technologies.
Directed by The OSU Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center's Agroecosystems Management Program, this project will promote partnerships between specialty crop farmers and institutions in Ohio by conducting a detailed survey of institutional food service providers.
Wooster Local Foods Cooperative
This project will establish an online ordering system and central distribution location for vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other specialty crops. This will help small growers to order, market, handle, store, and distribute their products throughout the year.