The Utah Department of Agriculture & Food has approved 16 projects to receive a total of $260,151 from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Funds.
Twenty-seven applications were submitted which represented a total of $600,000 in requested funding. The selected projects demonstrate a measurable benefit for specialty crops as an industry as well as the specific applicant.
Projects are selected to help more than just a single producer.
Recipients were selected on the basis of USDA requirements that projects enhance the competitiveness of other Utah specialty crop produces.
The Specialty Crop Block Grant program was initiated by USDA to extend the agencies assistance beyond the realm of commodity crop producers, who are eligible for massive assistance programs, including price supports.
The Utah projects which won grant dollars include:
RoseRed Wildflowers: A grant to mitigate the effects of Africanized honeybees in the south state. Utilizes an efficient method for producing AHB-free queens through instrumental insemination and make them available to local and regional beekeepers at a cost-effective price.
Brigham Young University: Funding for a red raspberry jam specialty market project to use the waste stream to improve nutritional properties of jam.
South Salt Lake City: Funding for the South Salt Lake Community Connection to Agriculture Project designed to increase nutrition knowledge and consumption of fruits and vegetables, and to assist residents and local farmers in improving the efficiency of the distribution chain.
Castleland RC&D Council: Funding will help develop a commercial asparagus test plot in Emery County to determine the feasibility of producing the crop there.
Wasatch Community Gardens: Money will help boost a youth gardening program of "city roots" classes and "growing greens" field trips.
Great Salt Lake RC&D: Funding to support Community Supported Agriculture Utah promotion program.
Cornaby's Farm: Funding to study reduction of sunscald in primocane raspberries.
Nine Utah State University project approved include funding to do the following:
USDA assistance to help a project adapting high density orchard managements strategies to the state's fruit industry
Probe precision irrigation management in the Utah tart cherry and apple orchards using continuous recording infrared temperature sensors.
Develop reduced input in conventional orchard floor management options for improving tree nutrition, fight pests and make water use more efficient.
Study Jujube, a new fruit for Utah production in low water regions.
Research optional production approaches for bell peppers, early season survival, nitrogen needs and high tunnels.
Implement cherry fruit fly killing stations to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals in orchards.
Use mobile devices to enhance fruit pest information delivery.
Set up workshops to educate fruit growers on two invasive pests: spotted wing drosophila and marmorated stink bug.
Establish a Farm-Chef-Fork farm to restaurant communication and sourcing system across the state.