DOAG: FARM TRANSITION GRANT APPLICATIONS DUE FEBRUARY 14, 2018




February 7, 2018

FARM TRANSITION GRANT APPLICATIONS DUE FEBRUARY 14, 2018

Mark Hood, Bureau of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg) is seeking applications for its 2018 Farm Transition Grant program. Applications are due Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

Farm Transition Grants are awarded to farmers and agricultural cooperatives for activities such as diversifying existing farm operations, and transitioning to value-added agricultural production and sales.

Awards are made as reimbursements of up to $49,999, and must be matched by the recipient, who has one year to complete the approved project.

With a focus on expanding and diversifying agriculture, priority will be given to the following project types:

  • On-farm improvements to comply with the Produce Safety Rule of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
  • Meeting food safety requirements for advanced positioning in the marketplace
  • Strengthening infrastructure to meet changing climate conditions
  • Processing Connecticut Grown products to increase year-round market availability and farm viability
  • Diversification of existing farm operations into new and emerging crops and/or product lines

Since 2006, Farm Transition Grants have been an important tool for many Connecticut farm families to invest in agricultural buildings, equipment, fencing, promotional projects, energy efficiency improvements, and a wide variety of other projects.

One example of a successful Farm Transition Grant project is the on-farm food-safety improvements at Hindinger Farm in Hamden. The farm was awarded a $7,750 Farm Transition Grant to update their packing house and cooler to comply with the new federal FSMA guidelines. The grant was supplemented with an $8,703 match from Hindinger Farm for the $16,453 project.

Hindinger Farm was one of 21 farms to be awarded a Farm Transition Grant in 2016. The purpose of the program is to strengthen the economic viability of Connecticut farmers and agricultural cooperatives. The $588,306 awarded that year leveraged $1,236,824 in matching funds as part of the competitive matching grant program.

Hindinger Farm hired Shepard Brook Carpentry, located in Hamden, CT, to implement the project. Project activities included putting up sheet rock, building shelving and packing benches, and installing insulation in the packing room. Shepard Brook did all the ceiling installation in the coolers, which included removal of existing water decayed framing. A new ceiling was put up with moisture-resistant sheathing and paintable surface.

An electrician was hired to change all the wiring, fix all the switches, and put up LED lighting flush to the ceiling in the packing room.  During the renovation a new electrical panel was installed to be compliant with building codes. Elizabeth Hindinger did all the painting and the finish surfaces. The result of these improvements is a very clean and easy-to-sanitize packing room that is safer now with the wiring up to code and framing more solid.

Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said the Hindinger Farm improvements are an example of how Farm Transition Grants can help farmers “take the next step” in improving and modernizing their operations. 

“One of our priorities continues to be offering grants that will assist with hardening of farms’ infrastructure to withstand extreme weather events and to help growers comply with the requirements of new federal Food Safety Modernization Act regulations,” Reviczky said. “Connecticut’s agricultural economy is making many significant advances in the right direction, and these grants will help keep that momentum going.”

Elizabeth Hindinger said the on-farm food-safety improvements project will not only enable the farm to comply with the new FSMA regulations, it will also enhance the safety of their food and customers.

“Thanks to the Department of Agriculture for providing us with a Farm Transition Grant. We are able to look to the future and remain sustainable,” said Elizabeth Hindinger. “This grant has enabled us to complete a project that would not have been possible without the grant.”

Hindinger Farm has been growing fresh produce in Hamden since 1893 when William and Rose Hindinger started the farm on a 60-acre parcel of land in Hamden. 

Today the Hindinger family continues to farm about 120 acres in Hamden, where its seasonal store offers fresh produce and other items through its gift shop.  The farm also operates a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that provides consumers with a weekly share of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and farm-fresh products.  In 1996, the fourth-generation farm received the Century Farm award from the Connecticut Agricultural Information Council.

Farm Transition Grant awards are funded through the Community Investment Act (CIA). Established through P.A. 05-228 and codified in C.G.S. Sec. 4-66aa – Sec. 4-66cc, CIA supports statewide initiatives in agricultural viability and sustainability, farmland preservation, open space protection, historic preservation, and affordable housing.  It also supports municipal capital improvement projects and costs associated with collecting fees.   CIA funds are generated through a fee for filing documents on municipal land records and are held separately from the state’s General Fund.

Additional information and application materials for the Farm Transition Grant are available at http://www.CTGrown.gov/grants.