[ATHENS, Ohio] — ACEnet was awarded a $6,000 grant from Farm Aid to assist Appalachia Ohio farmers in accessing the financial resources, processing infrastructure, and marketing skills to diversify their farms into profitable businesses that support sustainable livelihoods. This is ACEnet’s 7th grant from Farm Aid.

This grant will increase ACEnet’s Food Ventures staff’s capacity to provide livestock and specialty crop farmers in Appalachia Ohio the resources and assistance they need to reach new market opportunities. Training and technical assistance will expand access to infrastructure, and product development training to comply with FDA processing of specialty crops and ODA and HACCP plans for livestock farmers.

“A three pronged approach will enable farmers to diversify and expand farm revenue and seasonal sales by utilizing ACEnet’s processing facilities for specialty crop, dairy and meat processing, access to wholesale markets through brand programs and leveraged investment through crowdfunding and community capital services,” explained Leslie Schaller, ACEnet’s Director of Programs.

Farm Aid’s grantmaking is focused on work that enhances the viability of family farm agriculture in the United States. They issue grants to qualifying nonprofit organizations that serve family farmers in one of three funding areas: growing the good food movement, helping farmers thrive and taking action to change the food and farm system.

“Our goal is to create real change in our farm and food system, from the ground up,” said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. “Farm Aid grantees strengthen family farmers, they build communities that can support each other in hard times, and they organize people to stand up and challenge corporate power in our food system. These are essential activities that benefit everyone — eaters and farmers.”

To learn more about ACEnet’s Food & Farm Enterprise Center, visit: https://acenetworks.org/facilities/nelsonville-food-farm-enterprise-center/.

ACEnet is a community-based economic development organization whose mission is to grow the regional economy by supporting entrepreneurs and strengthening economic sectors. ACEnet accomplishes this mission by partnering with regional microenterprise and development practitioners to create a healthy local economy, allowing opportunity for all residents to start businesses, obtain quality jobs, and connect with other entrepreneurs for mutual benefit.

Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual festival to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food.

For more than 30 years, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised $57 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.

Community Update by ACEnet Programs & Communications Coordinator, Meggan Loveland