The HVADC Cultivator

HVADC Program Update: 

Grown and Certified Grants

 

The second round of NYS Grown & Certified (G&C) Grants in the Capital District have been awarded through the program administrated by HVADC and Hudson Mohawk Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc., (HMRC&D). Ardith Mae Farmstead Goat Cheese LLC in Stuyvesant, Berle Farm in Hoosick, Hudson Valley Fish Farm LLC DBA Hudson Valley Fisheries in Hudson, The Farm at Old Saratoga Mercantile in Schuylerville and Hudson Valley Hops and Grains in Ancramdale will receive funding under the program which helps farmers make improvements toward achieving G&C designation. 

New York State launched the G&C program as the state’s first multi-faceted food certification program designed to strengthen consumer confidence in New York products in August 2016. The program addresses food product labeling and assists New York farmers in order to take advantage of the growing market demand for locally grown foods produced to a higher standard. HVADC has been involved in the marketing of the program through HVADC Executive Director Todd Erling’s efforts serving on the Branding and Marketing Workgroup on the Governor’s Safe and Healthy Foods Advisory Committee, which provides input and guidance to the G&C program.

New York food growers and producers certified through G&C adhere to New York’s food safety and environmental sustainability programs—Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) plans-- both which assure consumers that the food they are buying is local and produced at that higher-standard established by these certifications. G&C participants are identified through the use of a G&C product label seal and are included in the program’s marketing outreach. Participants are able to leverage their G&C certification for their own marketing, grant-seeking and more.

To help farmers achieve G&C status, HVADC and HMRC&D partner to administer a grant program in the Capital District Region covering Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren, and Washington counties. In 2018, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets had awarded HMRC&D $500,000 as one of the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC), making the grant administration possible for the partners.

 

The G&C and GAP standards are thorough, the G&C producer grants are awarded for capital projects that will enable qualified agricultural producers meet food safety standards necessary for participation in the program. Eligible agricultural producers can apply for up to 90% of their total project cost, not to exceed $50,000. They must also provide at least 10% of the total project cost as matching support. The food producer match can include cash, loans or grants. The program is open to agricultural producers of dairy, eggs, beef, poultry, pork, sheep, goat, produce, shellfish, Christmas trees, maple, cut flowers, craft beverage ingredients, wine, spirits, beer and cider. Eligibility requirements may be found at https://certified.ny.gov/get-certified.

In addition to administrating the grant program, HVADC and HMRC&D help farmers apply for state funds for capital improvements related to food safety, identify sources of financing and HVADC will provide access to technical assistance, including guidance on GAP. Soil and Water Conservation offices in the six counties are assisting grant recipients with AEM. 

 

Collectively, the five most recent G&C grant recipients were awarded over $214,300 to cover the following projects:

 

Ardith Mae Farmstead Goat Cheese LLC

  • Purchase and installation of a second larger pasteurization vat due to an increased supply/demand for mixed cow/goat’s milk products ensures better food safety control (reduction of cross-contamination risk) when processing goat’s milk and a cow/goat mixed milk.

  • Purchase and use a digital recording thermometer to provide more accurate readings and increase safety controls.

  • Purchase a refrigerated unit and carrier to be put onto a truck body to keep the cold chain intact when transporting finished product to markets and picking up raw milk from local farms.

 

Berle Farm

  • The project includes drilling a well and installing hand-washing sinks for all produce handlers. A vegetable washing station including hose reels and wash lines will be installed. Existing harvesting containers will be replaced with washable non-porous bins.  One 12x27 walk in cooler for potatoes and apples and an additional 10 x12 cooler for all other produce including carrots, cabbage, lettuces, greens and berries will be constructed.  Coolers are to be equipped with humidity controllers

 

Hudson Valley Fish Farm LLC DBA Hudson Valley Fisheries

  • Upgrading equipment and infrastructure to improve sanitary conditions and shelf-life of the finished product with the addition of an automatic fish scaler and a dip-glazer.

 

The Farm at Old Saratoga Mercantile

  • This project will allow all produce to be handled on-site. Creation of a sanitary hand-wash station, dedicated produce wash and pack areas, cold storage for crops and sanitary storage for related items such as crates and packing materials

 

Hudson Valley Hops and Grains

  • Improved drying will reduce the chance of grains developing molds (e.g. mycotoxins) and insect infestation. Improved storage will allow grains to maintain their condition (i.e. Preventing molds and insects) while protecting the grains from rodents.

 

Four more applications totaling $76,498 are currently pending through the Department of Ag & Markets, and if approved, could close out this grant program.

 

Christina Scanlon of the Farm at Old Saratoga Mercantile believes that her project is going to help them expand their business in a few ways: “Our current situation is that we are cutting [greens] almost every single day because we don’t have storage for what we are cutting.  Then we have to pack it up, wash it by hand in an off-site certified kitchen and then bring it back. So what this will do will enable us to set up a cutting schedule where we can cut more than a day’s worth, wash on site and store to sell. We cannot do more than we are doing.” said Christina.  Scanlon expects that the new facility upgrades will allow her to expand the wholesale aspect of the business.  But Scanlon is most excited about the prospect of then hiring someone to be a cutter and washer. “I am doing this in between customers with a sign on my store’s door that says I am out back and to call my cell.  This will change so much for us.”

 

“As is the case with many of the small businesses that we work with, a modest investment can bring about significant changes to the operation. The Grown & Certified Producer Grant program is an impactful opportunity for small growers like Christina throughout our region,” said HVADC Deputy Director Mary Ann Johnson.

 

Capital District producers are encouraged to visit https://www.hvadc.org/grown-certified to learn about the certification process and details on the grant program. Growers in the Mid-Hudson region, (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester) interested in participating, should contact Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County, which serves as the administrator for those counties.

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