Funds for Innovative Agricultural Enterprises

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Everyone has that moment when a light bulb goes off in their head. A moment when they have an idea they believe could change the course of human existence, or at the very least make them a few extra dollars. Often times these new concepts don’t materialize because of a lack of resources. For people with ideas that pertain to agriculture there is a program called AgVentures. The AgVentures program is offered by North Carolina Cooperative Extension, and funded by the NC Tobacco Trust Fund that provides grants to North Carolina independent family farms for new and innovative agricultural project ideas, which will increase farm profits. The grant application requires input from a local Cooperative Extension agent.

Past grants were awarded for projects that have the potential to change the face of agriculture in North Carolina. For example, in Franklin County a farmer received the grant to construct a hemp drying facility in a shipping container. A farmer in Halifax County used the grant to purchase equipment for planting Stevia, a plant that is used as a sugar substitute. In Surry County a farmer used grant funds to purchase an automated bagging system for his deer corn. In Granville County a farmer used the grant funds to purchase hydroponic growing towers to produce leafy greens. And in Orange County the grant funds went to expand a community garden, where Burmese refugees can grow food for themselves or to sell.

There are two types of AgVenture grants, farmer grants, and community grants. Farmer grants are for farmers who are agriculturally dependent, and have a viable idea for an innovative agricultural project that will increase the profit of the farm. Community grants are for community organizations, which include extension agents, farm associations, schools, churches, civic organizations.

Applications are only being accepted from the following counties: Alamance, Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Cabarrus, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Davidson, Davie, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Forsyth, Gaston, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Iredell, Johnson, Lincoln, Martin, Mecklenburg, Nash, Northampton, Orange, Person, Pitt, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Sampson, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Union, Vance, Wake, Wayne, Wilson, Wilkes, Warren, and Yadkin.

In past years, NC AgVentures has offered county-based workshops for farmers interested in applying for an NC AgVentures Grant. Due to the COVID-19 quarantine, we will offer four online workshops. The presentation will be the same at all four workshops. You can participate on your computer, tablet, or phone. Participants may register for more than one workshop.

Workshop Dates: October 21, November 2 and 19, and December 1.

Time: 6 p.m.

To register click on the following link: REGISTER.

Or visit our webpage: NCAgventures website.

The AgVentures grant program awards grants of up to $8,000.

The applications open on October 15, 2020, and close on December 18, 2020.

If you aren’t located in any of the previously mentioned counties there are other grant funds that you may qualify for. AgOptions is available to farmers in Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Watauga, and Yancey Counties.

The AgPrime grant, which is managed by the University of Mount Olive, is available to farmers in Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Gates, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, Montgomery, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pender, Richmond, Robeson, Scotland, Tyrrell, and Washington Counties.

For more information visit: NC AgVentures Grant Program or contact William Landis,  wllandis@ncsu.edu, N.C. Cooperative Extension of Franklin County at 919-496-3344.