The producers of specialty farm crops provide consumers with much of the agricultural variety that Americans enjoy, and that have become hallmarks of our way of life. They have also become a vibrant and growing part of the economy at a recessionary time when there is too little that we can say that about.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture lists specialty crops as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, Christmas trees, turfgrass and sod, and nursery and greenhouse crops.
NCDA&CS also recently selected 17 organizations to receive 22 specialty-crop grants and have now announced the winners.
To be in the running for selection grant proposals were submitted by nonprofit organizations, commodity groups, government agencies and universities.
"We are pleased to be able to award nearly $1.2 million to 17 groups across the state," says Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "These projects will enhance the competitiveness of the state's specialty crops in the marketplace, and help local farm families grow more profitable crops."
The winning projects ranged from those promoting N.C. sweet potatoes and blueberries to developing organic farming and growing a hops industry in North Carolina. The project is administered by the department and funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program established by the 2008 farm bill.
The grant recipients are listed below. Numbers in parentheses denote number of grants an organization received if more than one: Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (two), Columbus County Cooperative Extension Service, N.C. Blueberry Council, N.C. Christmas Tree Association, N.C. Commercial Flower Growers Association, NCDA&CS, N.C. Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association, N.C. Nursery and Landscape Association, N.C. Potato Association, N.C. Sod Producers Association, N.C. Strawberry Association, N.C. Sweet Potato Commission, N.C. Vegetable Growers Association, N.C. State University (five), N.C. Watermelon Association, Preserve Heritage Agriculture and Regional Markets Now, Polk County Office of Agriculture Economic Development.
To learn more about the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, visit the website www.NCSpecialtyCropGrant.org.