DOAG: Joint Venture Grant Program Accepting Applications through January 31

This article appeared in the December 31, 2013 edition of the Ag Report.
 
 

Joint Venture Grant Program Accepting Applications through January 31

Jaime Smith, Bureau of Agricultural Development and Resource Preservation

 

 

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture is committed to fostering a healthy economic climate for agriculture, in part through promotion of agricultural businesses and an understanding among Connecticut's citizens about the diversity of Connecticut agriculture, its cultural heritage, and its contribution to the state's economy. 

 

The agency’s Connecticut Grown program and its familiar blue and green logo have supported this mission over the past three decades as Connecticut Grown has developed into the generic brand of Connecticut farm products. 

 

Farmers, wholesalers, and retailers use the logo to identify and market farm products grown or produced in the state, helping consumers make purchasing decisions that support both local agriculture and the local economy. 

 

Farm products are defined by Connecticut General Statutes as follows:

      ...any fresh fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, shell eggs, honey or other bee products, maple syrup or maple sugar, flowers, nursery stock and other horticultural commodities, livestock food products, including meat, milk, cheese and other dairy products, food products of "aquaculture", as defined in subsection (q) of section 1-1, including fish, oysters, clams, mussels and other molluscan shellfish taken from the waters of the state or tidal wetlands, products from any tree, vine or plant and their flowers, or any of the products listed in this subdivision that have been processed by the participating farmer, including, but not limited to, baked goods made with farm products.

 

Complementing the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Connecticut Grown program is its Joint Venture Grant.  Established in 1986 through the Regulations of State Agencies 22-38a-1 through 22-38a-4, the Joint Venture Grant program funds marketing projects using the Connecticut Grown logo to promote Connecticut farm products.  

 

Joint Venture grants are $2,995 or less for approved projects.  Awardees have one year to complete approved projects and must provide a cash match of at least 50 percent of the project cost. 

 

In-kind services and contributions cannot be used for any portion of the match.  Expenses such as hotels, meals, travel costs, honoraria, salaries, other business operating expenses, and career-related or scholarship funds are also ineligible match expenses and do not qualify for reimbursement.  

 

Proposed marketing projects must meet the following criteria:

·        Visual promotions must prominently display the Connecticut Grown at a size at least as large as any other logo.

·        Oral promotions (such as radio ads) must feature the phrase “Connecticut Grown.”

·        Projects must be new and not completed.

Previously awarded applicants may apply with a new project proposal. 

Applications are evaluated by a review team on the following:

·        Frequency of Connecticut Grown logo impressions.

·        Project duration.

·        Innovation.

·        Past awards to the same applicant, including how the Connecticut Grown logo was used on previously funded projects.

 

Many projects funded through the Joint Venture Grant program have successfully promoted Connecticut Grown farm products and helped strengthen the state’s agriculture.  Some examples of recently funded projects follow.

 

Connecticut Professional Timber Producers Association used a $2,000 grant to produce brochures and 24 x 36 inch aluminum Connecticut Grown signs being used by mills and foresters to showcase their production of Connecticut Grown forestry products in conjunction with sustainable agricultural practices in Connecticut’s woodlands.  Connecticut Grown forest products include furniture, houses, toys, bark mulch, carvings, and more. 

 

The aluminum Connecticut Grown signs are provided to applicants approved to participate in the Connecticut Grown Forest Products program.

Hill-Stead Farmer’s Market in Farmington used a $1,500 grant to conduct projects that increased market visibility, including production of 3,500 farmers’ market flyers, 150 market posters, 500 rack cards, 21,000 market calendars, and advertisements in local papers. 

 

The Bozrah Farmers’ Market used a $2,571 grant for a 30-second television commercial that ran on a local network in July and August this year.  The advertisement is now posted on the market’s website, www.bozrahfarmersmarket.org. 

 

The commercial helped drive record attendance of more than 1,800 customers to the market on a single Friday in August.  One farm reported its highest produce sales of the past five market seasons, and many of the other 33 vendors reported selling out during the market. 

 

According to Bozrah Selectman Kitty McCue, The small town secret is out thanks to the help from the Department of Agriculture’s Joint Venture Grant.  The word is out that a small unknown town of Bozrah has a big wonderful market.” 

 

Hartford Food System used a $1,000 grant to create the Market Traveler Passport.  The bilingual passport, scheduled for release in late spring 2014, will encourage residents to visit each of the eight farmers’ markets in Hartford.  Hartford Food System will produce and distribute 1500 copies through local community centers, WIC offices, YMCAs, senior centers, and area businesses. 

 

Prizes such as water bottles and pins featuring the Connecticut Grown logo will be offered to those who obtain four or more stamps in their passport.  The passport will showcase Hartford as a community that promotes local agriculture and provides convenient access to Connecticut Grown products for those living in, working in, or visiting the city.

 

The Danbury Farmers’ Market Community Collaborative used a $2,995 grant to conduct a trilingual campaign in English, Spanish, and Portuguese that featured 81 interior HARTransit bus signs, bus pulse-point permanent kiosk signs, 500 reusable market bags, and a 15-second television commercial that ran in August and September on targeted cable programs.  The mulitfaceted campaign was done in cooperation with HARTtransit, which provided interior bus signage space and large depot kiosks at no cost.

 

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture is now accepting Joint Venture Grant applications for 2014.  Application forms and full guidelines are available at www.CTGrown.gov (look under “Featured Links”).  Questions can be directed to Jaime Smith at 860-713-2559 or jaime.smith@ct.gov.

Applications must be received no later than January 31, 2014.