Dresden farm wins fed grant

Thu, 11/30/2023 - 8:00am

Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Maine State Director Rhiannon Hampson announced Nov. 29, USDA is awarding five Maine agricultural businesses, including Fields Fields Blueberries in Dresden, a combined $1 million-plus in grants. The Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) will help the businesses develop and promote their products, making more local agricultural goods available to Maine residents and wider markets. Cured meats, prepared fruits and vegetables, soaps, herbal health products, and a blueberry confection are among the products to be developed.

“When we help create processing opportunities for Maine farms, we shorten the local supply chain,” said Hampson. “This results in more choices for Maine consumers, as well as more opportunities and revenue for farmers. The Rural Development grants announced today offer businesses a chance to sustainably jumpstart growth, create jobs and enhance the ‘multiplier effect’ of the dollars being awarded. These continued Biden-Harris administration investments in farmers and rural entrepreneurs are creating better economic opportunities across the whole of Maine.”

The VAPG program is competitive, and USDA evaluates applications at the national level. This year, five Maine farms submitted winning proposals. The Dresden farm’s grant is the smallest of the five.

Fields Fields Blueberries ($10,000) secured planning grant funds to assess the feasibility of expanding the market for its blueberry crisp. The business will explore options for co-manufacturing and available distribution channels and will assess what would be necessary in terms of production scale.

The other grants in Maine went to The Balfour Farm ($249,917), an organic dairy farm and creamery is in Pittsfield; Herbal Revolution Farm & Apothecary ($250,000) in Union; goat milk soap bar maker Ledgeway Farm ($249,975) in Pittston; and William H. Jordan Farm ($250,000), a fifth-generation farm in Cape Elizabeth.