Gov. Glenn Youngkin has announced that the state has awarded $368,885 in matching grants through the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund Infrastructure Grant Program for food-related projects.
Here are receipients, with descriptions supplied by the governor’s office:
Turkey Processing, Albemarle County
Albemarle County requests funding to purchase grinding, vacuum packaging, and freezing equipment for Kelly Turkeys to expand its existing product line of whole birds and bone-in breasts by adding ground turkey to its offerings. In operation since 2015, Kelly Turkeys grows and processes KellyBronze birds, an internationally known breed of heritage turkeys raised using sustainable farming methods.
Commercial Kitchen, Bedford County
Bedford County seeks funding to support a new commercial kitchen by established meat processor EcoFriendly Foods. The company has had success selling value-added products, such as hand pies, soups, and stews, which are prepared in rented kitchen space. The company anticipates sales to double with consistent access to a kitchen facility. Grant funds will purchase commercial kitchen equipment, including a tilt skillet and additional refrigerated storage space.
Vegetable Processing, Carroll County
Carroll County seeks funding to support the Virginia Produce Company with the purchase and installation of high-efficiency vacuum cooling equipment for produce. Vacuum cooling safely chills produce and removes problematic surface moisture in a fraction of the time as conventional methods, while also using 75% less energy. This rapid and efficient cooling method reduces product lost through moisture damage and increases shelf life, which expands the potential customer market. The Virginia Produce Company sources from more than 40 farms in the region to supply fresh produce to major food retailers.
Commercial Kitchen, City of Charlottesville
The Charlottesville Economic Development Authority requests funding to support New Hill Development Corporation, an African American led non-profit community development corporation, in the construction of a shared-use commercial kitchen. The Black Entrepreneurial Advancement and Community Opportunity Network (BEACON) kitchen will include packaging and production equipment to house up to 16 local food businesses. The BEACON kitchen will offer lower rental fees, helping producers overcome a barrier to entry for food startups.
Commercial Kitchen, Culpeper County
Culpeper County seeks funding to purchase and install a walk-in freezer and cooler as part of a larger commercial kitchen project in the George Washington Carver Food Enterprise Center, a non-profit focused on food security and training in the Piedmont. This facility will serve as a food business incubator and will offer courses on value-added food production, food safety, and business management. The center will primarily serve the broader Rappahannock-Rapidan region, as well as users from beyond.
Meat Processing, Franklin County
Franklin County seeks funding to support an expansion by KC Farms Meats, a family-owned custom meat processing business. KC Farms Meats offers custom meat processing services to 39 livestock producers in the region who sell directly to their customers. Funds will be used to purchase a new smoker and walk-in freezer, which will allow the business to expand its product offerings to include specialty sausages, hotdogs, bacon, and ham.
Farmers’ Market, City of Galax
The city of Galax seeks funding to improve the Galax Farmers’ Market. When the Galax Farmers’ Market was constructed in 2000, brick pavers were built around two oak trees that have since died. As a result, the remaining space is unsightly and inaccessible to people with disabilities. This funding will be used to rebuild the patio, which will improve the appearance and overall customer experience. In addition, the new patio will increase the space available for vendors and market opportunities for local producers. Appalachian Independence, a group that advocates for people with disabilities, has provided strong support for this project.
Apple Processing, Nelson County
Nelson County requests funding to purchase new UltraUV processing equipment for two apple orchards, Silver Creek and Seamans’ Orchards. Due to the increased demand for fresh sweet cider, the orchards seek to upgrade to a larger UV processing machine to triple production. The equipment will be located at a packing shed owned by the orchards and will be able to process the majority of juice apples grown in Nelson County. The UV treatment allows orchards to produce an FDA-approved product with an extended shelf life, which will allow locally produced cider to be distributed throughout the region.
Community Cannery, Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County seeks funding for equipment upgrades at its community cannery, a shared-use facility that is operated commercially by the food business incubator non-profit Virginia Food Works. Since 2020, the non-profit reports that nearly 100 clients have clocked nearly 1,700 hours of facility usage preparing foods for commercial sale. The public also relies on the cannery’s services to prepare and process seasonal vegetables and meats to supply foods for their families and businesses. This project builds on the AFID-funded installation of a new boiler at the facility. New funding will be used to replace many vital components of the cannery’s infrastructure, to include steam pipes, traps, valves, gauges, a half-ton chain hoist, pressure/temperature recorders, steam pot stems, and other equipment.
Food Hub, City of Roanoke
The city of Roanoke requests funding to support the Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP), a non-profit focused on creating economically viable outlets for local farmers and food producers, such as farmers markets and commercial kitchens. LEAP aggregates and distributes food to an estimated 10,000 people each year. In addition, LEAP’s commercial kitchen supports over 40 food businesses with equipment, resources, and training. Their farmers markets host 50 local vendors, the majority of which are meat, produce, and dairy producers. In 2021, LEAP received support from the city of Roanoke to create a commercial kitchen and food hub in the underserved West End neighborhood. Funds will be used for the purchase and installation of a large walk-in cooler at the new food hub.