News Release
Release No.STELPRD4015905
ContactDawn Knepp717-237-2286
Value Added Producer Grant Projects Assist Agricultural Producers, Farmers, Ranchers, Small Business and Cooperatives
Duryea, Apr 20, 2012 --

@@Local Contact: Dawn Knepp

(717) 237-2286

USDA Under Secretary Tonsager Announces Grant Funding for Fertile Grounds

Value Added Producer Grant Projects Assist Agricultural Producers, Farmers, Ranchers, Small Business and Cooperatives

Shavertown, PA, April 20, 2012 – Agriculture Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager and State Director Tom Williams presented a plaque to Deb Shoval of Fertile Grounds, recognizing the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organization for receiving business development assistance through USDA Rural Development’s Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.

“This project will provide financial returns and help create jobs,” Tonsager said.  “This funding will promote small business expansion and entrepreneurship opportunities by providing a local business with access to capital, technical assistance and new markets for products and services."

Fertile Grounds of Noxen, PA, is a CSA owned and operated by women farmers. The VAPG will be used to create a comprehensive marketing campaign for a premium vegetable subscription program. As a member, customers will pay for the entire season up front and receive vegetable boxes weekly. In addition, the cooperative will create a line of products including pesto, salsa and artisan heirloom garlic braids to be sold as gourmet edible decorative gifts.

One of the examples of how an award can make an impact is Keystone Beef Marketing Network, located in New Bethlehem, PA. The sole mission of the non-profit organization is to enhance income for all entities of the Pennsylvania beef industry, with a focus on marketing locally grown cattle to local buyers using the PA Preferred label owned by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. In addition to ensuring an ongoing profitable market for beef producers, the project will also impact the local feedlot operators, auction barn owners, processors and consumers.

The Berry Patch, a family-owned berry farm in New Florence, PA received a grant to expand its jam production. A no-spray farm, The Berry Patch sells nearly 15,000 jars of jam at farmers markets throughout western Pennsylvania. The grant will allow the farm to expand to additional farmers markets, increasing sales by nearly $60,000.

The table below shows the complete list of VAPG awards in Pennsylvania:


Applicant Name

Award Amount

New Florence

The Berry Patch



North Mountain Pastures



Wholesome Dairy Veterinary



Willow Brook Farms, LLC



Glenn R. Cauffman


New Bethlehem

Keystone Beef Marketing Network


Hop Bottom

Endless Mountains Farm Fresh Cooperative


Chalk Hill

Christian Klay Winery



Fertile Grounds, Inc.



Shade Mountain Winery (SMW)


Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the conditions of the grant agreement.

Value-Added Producer Grants funds may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $155 billion in affordable loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site at


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).