Apples ready for picking at Skytop Orchard in Henderson County, in 2011. Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press

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Press release from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, shared Feb. 22:

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is offering grants to nonprofit and government agencies aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops in the marketplace. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is managed by the NCDA&CS and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the 2008 farm bill.

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“Last year, the department awarded more than $1.1 million to fund 22 projects that supported specialty crops across North Carolina,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “This program goes a long way to help small farmers stay competitive and grow more profitable crops.”

NCDA&CS will accept grant applications starting at $10,000 from nonprofit organizations, commodity associations, state and local government agencies, colleges and universities. Grants are not available for projects that directly benefit or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual. The application deadline is 5 p.m. April 20.

Projects involving the following specialty crops are eligible: fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, as well as nursery, floriculture and horticulture crops. Funding is also available for projects aimed at developing local and regional food systems and improving food access.

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For grant guidelines and an application, go to www.NCSpecialtyCropGrant.org. Questions may be directed to NCDA&CS marketing specialist Jeff Camden at (919) 707-3111, SpecialtyCropGrant@ncagr.gov, or Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1020.

Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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