The USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) provides grants to organizations for education, mentoring, and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers or ranchers. According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s most recent agricultural census data, the number of young people entering farming continues to decline, but the number of new farmers and ranchers over the age of 35, as well as the number of smaller farms and ranches nationwide, continues to rise. Ensuring there will be a “new generation” of beginning farmers and ranchers—regardless of age or production choice—is especially important for the continuation of agricultural production in the United States.
The USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant Program (RBDG) is intended to improve the economic conditions of rural areas. This program is authorized under section 310B(c) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 U.S.C. 1932(c)). Regulations are contained in 7 CFR part 4280, subpart E. The program is administered on behalf of Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) at the state level by the USDA Rural Development State Offices. Assistance provided to rural areas under the program has historically included the provision of on-site technical assistance to local and regional governments, public transit agencies, and related non-profit and for-profit organizations in rural areas; the development of training materials; and the provision of necessary training assistance to local officials and agencies in rural areas.
The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina inspires philanthropy and mobilizes resources to enrich lives and communities in Western North Carolina. Their vision is a vibrant 18-county region where all people can find opportunity and enjoy the region’s many resources. Their Food & Farming Focus Area supports the revitalization of a sustainable, local food system in Western North Carolina while preserving our mountain farm heritage. The goals of this focus area are to 1) increase opportunities for local farmers and food entrepreneurs that support the sustainability and profitability of WNC farms and 2) address food insecurity and facilitate nutrition and healthy eating for all.
Clif Bar Family Foundation was started in 2006 to support grassroots groups with inspiring ideas and limited funds. They believe in the wisdom of starting small, seeing what works, and growing it genuinely. Clif Bar Family Foundation supports innovative small- and mid-sized groups working to strengthen our food system and our communities, enhance public health, and safeguard our environment and natural resources. Their theory of positive change is straightforward. Just as they celebrate the interconnections among their funding priorities, they seek to build interconnections among their grantees and support groups that leverage relationships to enhance their influence.
Partnering with non-profit organizations and community involvement have always been a part of New Belgium. In 1995 when the philanthropy program was conceived, $1 for every barrel of beer sold was donated to non-profit organizations in the communities where it sells its beer. This effort spurred the establishment of a philanthropy committee that, to this day, remains the backbone of the program. This inter-departmental group—open to all interested coworkers—researches, reviews, and allocates funds to worthy organizations doing important work across New Belgium’s areas of distribution. Since its inception, New Belgium Brewing has donated more than $8 million through its grant programs, and in 2016, co-workers donated over 4,220 hours of volunteer time to their communities.
The Simply Organic 1% Fund supports and promotes the growth of organic and sustainable agriculture. The types of projects they support include:
- Research into organic production methods and crop improvement
- Educating farmers on organic growing techniques, certification standards and documentation
- Educating the public on the value of organic agriculture
- Developing projects that help organic farmers increase efficiency and produce better, more valuable products
Our Growth Partners include Farm Credit Carolina, The French Broad Food Coop, Earth Tools, Mountain Rose Herbs, Biltmore, Red Moon Herbs, Living Web Farms, and Chelsea Green Publishing. Many thanks to our dedicated Growth Partners—long-term, and year-round supporters of Organic Growers School. These organizations have partnered with OGS to help build the local, sustainable food movement in Western North Carolina.