(WFXR) — On Monday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin kicked off Virginia Ag Week by announcing that 11 localities — including four counties in southwest and central Virginia — will receive $214,000 in state funds so they can invest in their food and farming systems’ infrastructure. 

According to a statement released by Youngkin’s office, these matching grant awards from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industry Development (AFID) Fund Infrastructure Grant Program support strategic investments into missing infrastructure preventing small-scale farmers and food producers from growing their operations. 

“As we begin this weeklong celebration of agriculture, Virginia’s largest industry, I am pleased to partner with our local governments through the AFID program to make strategic investments into the infrastructure our farmers and food producers need to be successful,” Youngkin said. “It is through innovative partnerships like these, where the private and public sectors come together to identify and address critical needs, that we can keep the Commonwealth moving forward.”

Officials say this round of funding will go toward producers involved in meat processing, grain milling, oyster production, food and beverage, and shepherding, as well as the creation and expansion of farmers markets and a commercial kitchen.   

“Virginia Ag Week provides us an opportunity to not just appreciate the many positive impacts agriculture brings to our daily lives, from the delicious food on our plate to the beautiful farmland out our window, but to also think about how agriculture can be made even better,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matt Lohr. “There is no better time to announce these awards that highlight the strength and diversity of Virginia’s agriculture industry, while also showing how the thoughtful commitment and innovation of our farmers and food producers is driving the industry forward.”

The following projects in southwest and central Virginia are among the 11 receiving funding in this round of the AFID Infrastructure Grant Program:

  • Commercial kitchen expansion in Bedford County: $9,000
    • Bedford County is requesting funding to expand the commercial kitchen facility located at Bramble Hollow Farm, which is a member of Edible Goose Creek, a small farming collective focused on sustainable food. 
      Since few commercial kitchen facilities exist in the area, this facility serves a community need for producing value-added products. 
      The funding was requested to buy a commercial tilt kettle for Bramble Hollow Farm’s popular chicken stock and other members’ products.  
  • Grain milling upgrades in Franklin County: $10,000
    • Franklin County is requesting funding to support Green Sprig Ag (GSA), a grain milling operation run by a fifth-generation farmer and a member of the Common Grain Alliance, a mid-Atlantic network of grain farmers. 
      GSA produces both feed and food grade grains, but it needs to make facility upgrades to more efficiently process grains entering the food system. Therefore, the grant funds will be used to renovate an existing building to meet food grade standards for the purpose of cleaning, storing, and processing grain for members of the Common Grain Alliance.  
  • Sheep wool baler in Grayson County: $20,000
    • Grayson County is partnering with the New River Valley Sheep & Goat Club to buy a baler in support of regional sheep wool production. 
      “The discrepancy in the value of baled wool versus non-baled wool is extreme, and the purchase of the baler will allow producers to sell directly to the end buyer and see as much as a 400% increase in profit. This project is also receiving grant funding from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission,” the governor’s office said in a statement on Monday, June 13.
  • Grain milling upgrades in Nelson County: $22,500
    • Nelson County has requested funding to help Deep Roots Milling (DRM) — a founding member of the Common Grain Alliance and a leader in regional grain processing — grow both retail and wholesale sales. 
      DRM operates at Woodson’s Mill, which was created in 1794 and is the only water-powered mill still in operation in Virginia. 
      The funding will be used to upgrade the mill’s third floor to create a sifting room and to buy new bagging equipment.

According to officials, the AFID Infrastructure Grant Program distributes awards of up to $25,000 to develop community infrastructure supporting local food production and sustainable agriculture. 

Applications for the next round of this semi-annual grant program will be accepted from Oct. 1 through Nov. 15 of this year, with the award announcement set for December. To learn more about the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Infrastructure program, click here.