Friday, February 12, 2010

Additional Thoughts & Ideas for a Specialty Crop Block Grant Application

Last week I announced the opening of the Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) but this week I again wanted to spend some time talking about various projects and ideas that could be applicable for funding. Since one of the biggest criteria for the grant is the Specialty Crop itself those crops that qualify are: Algae, Chickpeas, Christmas trees, Cocoa, Coffee, Cut flowers, Dry edible beans, Dry peas, Foliage, Fruit grapes for wine, Garlic, Ginger root, Ginseng, Herbs, Honey, Hops, Kava, Lavender, Lentils, Maple syrup, Mushrooms, Organic fruits and vegetables, Peppermint, Potatoes, Seaweed, Spearmint, Sweet Corn, Vanilla, Vegetable seeds, Commonly recognized fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops (including floriculture).

If you grow any of these crops perhaps you could consider partnering with others who do the same and develop some ways to work together to market, advertise and promote your crop. Perhaps you could work together to find more efficient ways to distribute your crop. Perhaps, you could partner with a university and offer to let them do research on your crop or production practices or even some sort of nutritional study. Perhaps there is some new technology or equipment that would enhance food safety or disease control or longevity of the product.

Also, consider the trends of more people wanting to buy fresh, locally grown produce or organic produce and determine if there is a way to draw more consumer awareness to your product. Also, think of Agri-tourism and the interest of consumers to stop and cut a Christmas tree, pick apples, sample wine or attend an event.

Grants can range from $2,000-$30,000 so you can think big or think small. The application is somewhat simple to fill out and just asks for a narrative about your goals, expected outcomes and be able to justify your expenses. I would strongly encourage you to take advantage of this unique funding opportunity. Look for other organizations, producers or academia to partner with. You have a good 4 months until the application is due so that leaves plenty of time for brainstorming. Remember to check out ISDA’s website for the SCBG program guidance, application and score sheet. And as always if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment as your thoughts may spur others on as well.

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