BOONE -- Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture is dedicated to strengthening the High Country's local food system by supporting women and their families with resources, education, and skills related to sustainable food and agriculture.

With funding from Heifer USA, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to working with community to end hunger and poverty while learning to care for the earth, roughly $50,000 will be distributed to local farmers in Alleghany, Ashe, Wilkes and Watauga counties in North Carolina and Johnson County, Tenn.

Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture is releasing a request for proposals for farmers focusing on increasing production through innovation and sustainable methods. Applications will be due by November 30, 2017 and can be found on the BRWIA website http://www.brwia.org/direct-to-farmer-application.html. Interested applicants must attend one of two pre-grant application clinics happening in October 2017. Details for those required clinics are as follows:

Clinic #1: Beyond Grants – Funding your Project

(Watauga County)

Date: October 24, 2017 from 6-8PM

Location: Blue Ridge Energy, Conference Room, US Hwy 421 South, Boone, NC 28607

Facilitator: Chris Grasinger, High Country Regional Manager, Mountain BizWorks

Clinic #2: Knowing Your Markets

(Ashe County)

Date: October 26, 2017 from 6-8PM

Location: Ashe County Library, West Jefferson, Downstairs Conference Room, 148 Library Drive, West Jefferson, NC 28694

Facilitator: Jason Roehrig and Shiloh Avery from Tumbling Shoals Farm in Miller Creek, NC

Farmers are required to work with their local extension agent on the application and throughout the grant cycle. Please contact the County Extension Agent(s) in your county before attending one of the clinics if you are interested in applying. This will help you come prepared to the clinic with a defined goal. You must be within BRWIA’s service area (counties listed above) to apply.

Applicants are able to apply for funds from a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $2,500. All of those who are awarded grants will receive business-planning support and will have a functioning business plan by the end of the grant cycle. Resources on business plan development are available through BRWIA, Ascent Business Network, and local extension agents. This grant program is modeled after WNC AgOptions, exclusively funded by the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.

Applicants should be farmers who demonstrate the economic viability of farms in the five-county region. Support is provided to farmers who are diversifying or expanding their operations to increase farm income and encourage the sustainability of the farm businesses. Funding requests should be for items directly related to the growing and harvesting of crops for sale, including livestock.

Contact Sherri Gallant by email (sherri@brwia.org) or phone (828-386-1537) with any questions. Applications for the grant are available on BRWIA’s website (www.brwia.org/direct-to-farmer-application.html) or through your local extension agent.

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