Franklin County, Ferrum College Apply for $2.1 Million for New Farm-to-Table Initiative
Ferrum, Va. (July 6, 2010) – A proposed $2.1-million project funded largely by the United States Department of Agriculture would make it easier for citizens of Franklin County and the surrounding region -- as well as students at Ferrum College, Franklin County Public Schools, and similar organizations throughout Southwest and Southside Virginia, to access locally grown food and produce. Additionally, it would provide local farmers with a better market for their goods.
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The proposal received the backing today from U.S. Rep. Thomas Perriello who spoke in favor of the initiative during a presentation at Ferrum College. Perriello, who gave an update on his plan entitled, New Energy for the Fifth District: A Blueprint for Putting Southside and Central Virginia at the Forefront of the Clean Energy Economy, said the grant falls perfectly in line with his hopes for Franklin County and the rest of the 5th District. “It just makes sense,” said Perriello. “Our farmers need to know they have a ready market. Local citizens need access to quality food, and research shows that locally grown food is fresher and healthier,” said Perriello.
The grant request, submitted by Franklin County in partnership with Ferrum College in June 2010, would purchase a facility located in Rocky Mount. The facility would provide warehouse space for locally grown produce along with modern flash-freezing technology and freezer space, which would provide locally grown goods beyond the end of the growing season. In addition, the grant would purchase a vehicle for local deliveries and work with established food distributors for region-wide distribution.
Ferrum College Dean of the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, David Johnson also noted during the presentation that the grant would provide locally grown food to the Franklin County School system, and to STEP Inc., (Support to Eliminate Poverty) which works with the economically disadvantaged. Johnson said he was pleased to see Ferrum College, which offers a major in agriculture continue its historic leadership position with respect to local farming.
Ferrum Agriculture Major Sean Duff, who also spoke, agreed, saying, “I am anxious to put what I have learned with respect to new farming techniques to work. This is an exciting time for farming.”
Jay Abbott, a vegetable farmer from the Sontag area of Franklin County echoed Duff, telling the group, “I could grow a lot more food if I knew I had a place to sell it when it was ripe and ready to go. I planted ten acres this year, but that could easily be fifty, said Abbott.
Perriello and officials from Franklin County, including County Administrator Rick Huff, who was also present, said they were hopeful that the grant would be approved. Officials said they hoped to hear from the USDA by early August.
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About Ferrum College: Ferrum College is a four-year, private, co-educational, liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Ferrum offers a choice of nationally recognized bachelor's degree programs at a cost well below the national average for private colleges.
Contact: John Carlin