The Farm Aid grant program, started by country and rock stars Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp, is providing 2019 funding to Athens-based non-profit ACEnet to keep family farmers on the land. The money, $6,000, has been awarded to ACEnet’s Food & Farm Enterprise program.
This $6,000 Farm Aid 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.
“Assistance will include training, marketing and distribution assistance to beginning and established livestock and produce farmers to navigate regulatory compliances, develop new products, devise market and branding strategies and diversify sales through new wholesale opportunities,” explained Adam Kody, ACEnet’s Food Ventures Center Manager.
With additional funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and Ohio’s USDA Rural Business Development program, ACEnet has completed the construction of a meat-processing facility and produce processing facility at its Nelsonville Food Hub.
The facility is licensed through the Ohio Department of Agriculture Meat Inspection program. Kody explained that “under this license, the facility allows producers to come in, process their meat how they see fit, make it look how they want it to look, and actually come out with a finished product. Since the new facility is licensed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, clients using the space can also now sell wholesale.”
Becky Clark, owner of Pork & Pickles and meat processing facility user, is excited to grow her business being able to sell wholesale “instead of only being able to sell direct to consumers or to restaurants under a monetary cap.”
Since 1996, ACEnet’s 12,500 square foot Food Ventures Center in Athens has enabled 100+ farmers to prepare, process, warehouse and market value-added products that can be dehydrated, frozen or thermally processed to increase shelf stability, customer preferences and access to larger wholesale buyers. The new Food & Farm Enterprise Center in Nelsonville will only increase ACEnet’s ability to serve the food producers in our local community.
Farm Aid is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on the land. “Each year, proceeds from Farm Aid’s annual concert and our generous community of donors are granted to IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations working to strengthen family-farm agriculture in the United States. Since our first concert in 1985, we’ve granted more than $24 million to over 300 organizations nationwide. Farm Aid’s grantees are critical on-the-ground partners in the movement to keep family farmers on the land, producing good food for all.”
Community Update by ACEnet Programs & Communications Coordinator, Meggan Loveland