Gov. Malloy: Grant will Support the Expansion and Revitalization of the Hartford Regional Farmers’ Market
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy and state Department of Agriculture (DOAG) Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky today announced that DOAG has been awarded $375,644 through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2013 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to support plans to add a kitchen and food processing center at the Hartford Regional Market. The new center will provide Connecticut’s fruit and vegetable farmers a licensed, sanitary facility at the Market in which to prepare products from their harvest for sale and consumption.
"Farming and agriculture is a $3.5 billion industry that accounts for nearly 28,000 jobs in Connecticut,” Governor Malloy said. “We recognize this diverse sector will play an important role in our long-term economic growth and are working to create more opportunities for our farms, agricultural nonprofits, processers and wholesale distributors to be part of these efforts. Recognizing the rise in consumer interest in Connecticut Grown products lately, we believe the Hartford Regional Market provides a solid foundation from which to develop a vibrant green-goods hub to ensure that more of the food we consume is grown and produced here, and more of the money we spend on these local products goes back to our state economy.”
Operated by the state as a self-sustaining non-profit venture, the Regional Market employs more than 400 people and provides a central location for area farmers and wholesalers to sell and distribute food and other agricultural products. The Market is the largest perishable food distribution facility between Boston and New York, covering 32 acres and containing 230,386 square feet of warehouse space, an active railroad spur, and 144 farmers’ market stalls.
“This project creates multiple opportunities,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky. “Not only will it extend farmer income to a full 12 months a year through products with a longer shelf life, it will enable farmers to sell a larger percentage of their crop. Instead of those tomatoes with minor blemishes ending up on the compost pile, they can be made into tomato sauce, salsa, soup, or seasoning mixes.”
In April 2013, the Governor's Council for Agricultural Development released a holistic, strategic plan for Connecticut agriculture, “Grow Connecticut Farms”, which makes recommendations to further develop, diversify, and promote agriculture in the state. In its report, the Council identified the Regional Market as an important component in the long-range growth of Connecticut’s farms and agriculture industry, and DOAG and the Connecticut Marketing Authority have begun a master plan to renovate and upgrade facilities at the Market. One of seven projects in Connecticut funded by the USDA grant, the design and launch of a shared-use kitchen and food processing center is part of this larger revitalization project. In April, the State Bond Commission voted to approve an allocation of $400,000 to make essential roof repairs at the Market.
The 2013 USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant also fund projects and partnerships with the Connecticut Apple Marketing Board, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, and UConn’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act of 2004 and the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 define specialty crops as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program exists to solely enhance the competitiveness of those crops and is particularly well suited to states such as Connecticut, which does not produce significant quantities of commodity crops such as wheat and soybeans. More information is available on the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s website, www.CTGrown.gov, under “Programs, Services, and Grants.”
For Immediate Release: October 4, 2013
Contact: Peter Yazbak