Funding from the Value-Added Producer Grant, as well as support from the FSA and NRCS offices, have been instrumental in supporting our operations. Getting a new value-added enterprise off the ground is a huge undertaking—from the farm production and labor management side to marketing and sales. Having funds to support this project ensures that we have the resources needed to succeed, including paying our current staff, hiring a new position, and support with design, packaging and marketing. In addition to two VAPG grants for different projects (one in 2017 and one that begins this year), I also utilized an FSA Direct Loan to purchase the farm in 2018 (and again to re-finance in 2020), a FSA microloan for equipment purchases, and support from the NRCS EQIP program for irrigation and cover cropping updates.
My advice to farmers is to reach out to your local offices! Schedule an in person appointment, let them know about the details of your farm and ask questions—it's their job to help you! I remember when I first reached out, I was nervous that they wouldn't understand the needs of a small operation like mine. However, the folks that I worked with were actually quite familiar with small businesses and worked with me to find programs that would support the farm - from supporting my mortgage application through the FSA Direct Loan program, to offering edits to my VAPG proposal.
We're getting our herbal teas out to more people