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.
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