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Originally published: 2014-01-20 12:54:57
Last modified: 2014-01-20 12:55:43

Seeds of Change seeks applications

Blue Ridge Seeds of Change recently issued a request for proposals for farmers focusing on increasing production through innovation and sustainable methods. 

The timeline and application can be found at http://www.blueridgeseedsofchange.org/direct-to-farmer-rfp.html. 

Letters of intent are mandatory and will be due by Feb. 14. Applications are due by March 10. Farmers are required to work with their local extension agent on the application and throughout the grant cycle. 

Blue Ridge Seeds of Change is a nonprofit organization committed to building a vibrant regional food system that strengthens economies, improves health and reduces poverty in the Blue Ridge regions of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. 

The organization does this by empowering local food and farm entrepreneurs, growing living wage jobs and increasing access to locally produced food, while fostering ecological stewardship. 

The  organization stemmed from Heifer International's Seeds of Change Initiative with the goal of developing a regional food system in Appalachia. 

Eligible farmers are those who live in Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany and Wilkes counties in North Carolina and Johnson County, Tenn. Applicants are able to apply for $3,000 or $6,000 grants. 

Those who are interested in the $6,000 grants are required to develop a business plan during the grant cycle. 

Seeds of Change will provide information regarding resources to help develop business plans. 

The grant program is modeled after WNC AgOptions, exclusively funded by the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.

Applicants should be farmers who demonstrate the economic viability of farms in the Blue Ridge Seeds of Change five-county region. 

Support is provided to farmers who are diversifying or expanding their operations to increase farm income and encourage the sustainability of the farm businesses. 

Blue Ridge Seeds of Change awards grants to a variety of farm operations, including fruits and vegetables, livestock, nurseries, agri-tourism, beekeeping and value-added processing. 

While agriculture is a varied and diverse industry that can be defined in many ways, Blue Ridge Seeds of Change favors applicants who operate a business and manage land for the purpose of sustainably producing crops for harvest and sale, according to the group. 

Any funding requests should be for items directly related to the growing and harvesting of crops for sale, including livestock.

For more information, contact Watauga County agents Jim Hamilton at (828) 264-3061 or jim_hamilton@ncsu.edu, Richard Boylan at (828) 264-3061 or richard_boylan@ncsu.edu or Eddy Labus at (828) 264-3061 or eddy_labus@ncsu.edu.