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Home > Grants, Loans & Financing > Grant Opportunities > Specialty Crop Grants > Specialty Crop Grant Awardees

Specialty Crop Grant Awardees

Federal Fiscal Year 2017

Grantee Project Summary Project Total
Cook County Community Center / Extension The purpose of the project is to assess the economic impact of growing local cut flowers and to identify their niche markets along the North Shore of Lake Superior. $14,000.00
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy To continue our successful Farm to Head Start program that brings fresh, healthy, local specialty crops into early care settings, and to begin bringing specialty crops to summer food programs through leveraging our Head Start partnerships. $100,000.00
Minnesota Certified Seed Potato Growers Association Implement marketing strategies to increase industry awareness of the quality and variety of Minnesota grown certified seed potatoes to increase sales and industry reach. $15,000.00
Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association The Minnesota Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association will strengthen Minnesota’s specialty crop industry by providing tailored on-farm instruction in production, marketing and financial management and networking opportunities for beginning growers. $71,760.00
Minnesota Grown Promotion Group This project increases sales of Minnesota specialty crops through statewide marketing including sponsored search advertising (pay-per-click), promoted social media posts, and promotion of specific specialty crops in the printed Minnesota Grown Directory. $80,500.00
Renewing the Countryside II Farmers often have the capacity to produce more specialty crops than can be sold to individual customers at farmers' markets, so this project will help vendors expand sales and income streams by having market managers facilitate wholesale sales. $99,937.00
Sustainable Farming Association (SFA) SFA will increase profitability of farmers and beginning farmers by increasing premium garlic production, training farmers on best garlic growing/marketing practices, expanding markets and supply chains, and researching improved cultivation methods. $100,000.00
The Good Acre With 1:1 business development and on-farm production and food safety technical assistance, The Good Acre and partners will increase farmer readiness to access wholesale markets and increase farm sales of Minnesota-grown specialty crops. $99,270.00
University of Minnesota Determination of the effects of nitrogen fertilization, seed source, and plant community on the production of beneficial phytochemicals in fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) for use in natural care products. $51,053.00
University of Minnesota This project will increase native grass sales and improve public knowledge and awareness of the benefits of native grasses through an educational program, customer surveys, and point of sale displays at many garden centers in Minnesota. $57,149.50
University of Minnesota Optimum harvest and postharvest periods, traits affecting consumer appeal, and consumer preference will be determined for kiwiberry varieties adapted to Minnesota and made available to public at the University of Minnesota web site. $91,964.00
University of Minnesota In order to extend the season for cool-season crops and marketing opportunities for farmers, we will use shading in low tunnels and prechilling to improve field production of locally-grown lettuce and cauliflower with flavor acceptable to consumers. $93,375.00
University of Minnesota This project will optimize the methodologies to advance the techniques necessary to efficiently produce seedless table grape breeding lines for cold-hardy climates. $97,524.00
University of Minnesota To sustainably control weeds in perennial fruit plantings, the University of Minnesota will investigate the use of decomposable grit applied via an air blast sprayer with the long term goal of enhancing economic and environmental sustainability. $97,728.00

Federal Fiscal Year 2016

Grantee Project Summary Project Total
Central Lakes College Evaluate the cost savings and effectiveness of in furrow fungicide and starter fertilizer and top dress applications of nitrogen to increase seed yield and quality of dry edible beans. $36,903.99
The Good Acre Help small-scale farms increase sales of specialty crops by providing food safety training to member farms as well as aggregation, distribution, and logistical services that would enable them to access wholesale markets; develop plans that all small-scale farms can use to add necessary infrastructure to become GAP certified; and to develop food safety curriculum and industry models that will be shared around the State. $94,897.00
Jim Gehrke/Minnesota Valley Action Council Protect the investment already made in existing food hubs by facilitating the rapid growth necessary for each to reach a self-sustaining level of development. $100,000.00
Latino Economic Development Center Develop a pilot project to guide immigrant farmers in the efficient production of salad mix using specialized equipment and high-tunnel production for sale to chef-driven restaurants. $25,000.00
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Increase market access opportunity, sales, and new distribution relationships for Minnesota specialty crop sellers and organizations. $72,670.51
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Assess their distribution of pests as well as incidence/abundance and help growers monitor for them to mitigate losses. $94,398.00
Minnesota Grown Promotion Group Increase sales and competitiveness of Minnesota specialty crops through sponsored search advertising, increased exposure for specific specialty crops in the printed Minnesota Grown Directory, and development and distribution of new promotional materials for vegetable growers. $74,800.00
Sweetland Orchard Assess the suitability of growing 12 cider apple varieties on 2 different rootstocks at 8 geographically and climactically distinct locations in Minnesota. $32,165.00
University of Minnesota Develop research-based management programs for Colorado potato beetle that exclude neonicotinoid insecticides. These programs will incorporate defoliation-based thresholds, new scouting methods, and resistance management tactics. $95,266.00
University of Minnesota Provide research-based information to specialty crop producers regarding the benefits of legume cover crops in rotation with vegetable crops, and extend this information to immigrant farmer communities. $99,974.00
University of Minnesota Improve the competitiveness and sustainability of Minnesota fruit producers by developing an improved pest alert warning system for the highly damaging economic pest, the Spotted Winged Drosophila (SWD). $50,000.00
University of Minnesota Development of novel tomato varieties and hybrids to meet the need of growers who reside in north and short season locations, providing locally grown fresh tomatoes to these areas. $50,000.00
University of Minnesota Build supply chains to increase access to University of Minnesota’s new or improved specialty crops [edible dry beans, organic potatoes, and hazelnuts]. $100,000.00
University of Minnesota Increase awareness of and demonstrate Deep Winter Greenhouse (DWG) technology including production of an online training manual and workshops. $50,000.00
University of Minnesota Improve potato production sustainability in the Midwest through validation of biochemical markers to predict sugar end development under field conditions for better storage management. $50,000.00
University of Minnesota Develop sustainable mechanisms to harvest ginkgo seeds for medicine and food, thereby preventing the removal of mature female ginkgo trees that produce malodorous seeds in the urban environment. $25,000.00

Federal Fiscal Year 2015

Grantee Project Summary Project Total
Central Lakes College Help meet the growing need for technical support for the wine and grape growing industries in Minnesota and to lead the effort to negotiate and implement rules concerning the Food Safety and Modernization Act by educating winemakers and grape growers and giving them access to personalized instruction from a seasoned professional. $97,344.00
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Increase the local sale of Minnesota grown specialty crops in the child care marketplace through technical assistance and outreach to Minnesota’s 33-county level Head Start programs, including coordination with farmers, distribution and processing partners, and Head Start staff. $90,083.00
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Increase demand and market access for Minnesota specialty crops with potential for wholesale distribution through promotional assistance at domestic trade shows such as the National Restaurant Association. $42,466.78
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Gather key data directly from actual customers of Minnesota specialty crop growers, including demographics, distance traveled, amount spent, reasons for choosing the farm they did, social media usage, and other key market data. $75,000.00
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Increase the awareness and consumption of locally produced specialty crops by creating new specialty crop educational materials and professional development opportunities for teachers including videos, a lesson booklet, and a student AgMag. $74,749.68
Minnesota Farm Winery Association Increase awareness and sales of Minnesota wine made from Minnesota grown grapes, fruit, and honey by promoting Minnesota wineries as “points of destination” for travel/tourism, community-based business meetings, and social/recreational gatherings. $70,000.00
Minnesota Food Association Increase the marketability of traditional Asian, African, and Latino crops by developing, evaluating, and eventually providing training on techniques to improve the efficiency of these crops. $83,284.00
Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Better equip fruit and vegetable producers for economic success by providing them with production and marketing information to make them more competitive in local markets, offering them strategies to increase customer loyalty and ways to effectively use social media to maintain and create connections, and conducting a beginning grower workshop to help new vegetable growers build a foundation for success. $41,756.50
Minnesota Grown Promotion Group Development and distribution of new promotional materials for vegetable growers and honey producers, development of a new series of videos promoting specialty crops, sponsored search advertising, search engine optimization and increased exposure for specific specialty crops in the printed Minnesota Grown Directory. $99,500.00
North Dakota State University Increase potato production by working to eradicate potato emergence disorder by determining whether the interaction between the root-lesion nematode Pratylenchus penetrans and fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum is the cause of this problem. $99,814.00
Renewing the Countryside Improve local producers’ access to new, institutional markets for edible specialty crops by providing regional farmer-buyer networking events that include food safety and local food procurement introductory workshops and by putting farm-to-cafeteria enhancement teams in place to develop the skills of buyers to purchase from specialty crop producers. $98,394.09
Seven Songs Organic Farm Expand production of ginger and turmeric by testing a cost-efficient model for growing ginger (and turmeric which has similar requirements) in the Upper Midwest, while also creating better crop rotation, lowering overhead costs, and meeting public demand for this high-value specialty crop. $52,348.50
University of Minnesota Provide needed food safety technical assistance and education to specialty crop growers in Minnesota using innovative and experiential learning opportunities including on-farm workshops, peer-to peer-learning opportunities, participation in national food safety courses, and a new online food safety plan short course. $97,732.16
University of Minnesota Increase consumer knowledge on the benefits of native grasses, especially as larval food for pollinators, while increasing sales and use of native grasses through point-of-purchase marketing and educational materials at five garden centers in Minnesota. $76,430.74

Federal Fiscal Year 2014

Grantee Project Summary Project Total
Central Lakes College Provide Minnesota Wineries with a quality testing program which would monitor wine quality, reward quality wines with an approved label, and increase sales of Minnesota grown wines through market expansion. $48,362.08
Cooperative Development Services Increase specialty crop farmer knowledge of financial metrics pertinent to various food hub models by obtaining regional specialty crop-based food hub metrics, assessing the desires of Minnesota-based specialty crop participants, developing proforma templates for several types and scales of businesses, and disseminating the findings to specialty crop producers via web access and group seminars. $37,178.00
Farm Commons Help specialty crop farmers understand techniques for negotiating and drafting sales agreements that help all parties achieve their goals and comply with emerging regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act. $43,137.00
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Improve the competitiveness and sustainability of Minnesota fruit producers by determining the best Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices for the economically damaging and invasive pest, the Spotted Winged Drosophila (SWD). $100,000.00
Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Strengthen the specialty crop industry and local foods movement by providing comprehensive, individualized production and management instruction for beginning fruit and vegetable growers. $79,200.00
Minnesota Grape Growers Association Provide growers of cold hardy grapes information, techniques and best viticultural practices and methods of growing highest quality, cold hardy grapes for maximum economic gain and personal satisfaction by developing a publication and accompanying videos. $48,000.00
Minnesota Grown Promotion Group Increase sales by creating innovative new promotional materials for wineries and vegetable growers, by creating new ads promoting apples, Christmas trees and berries, and by providing detailed information regarding apples, Christmas trees, pumpkins, berries and wineries in 170,000 copies of the Minnesota Grown Directory. $99,500.00
North Dakota State University Reduce lost profits and wasted food through the identification of blemish problems commonly found in tuber potatoes and develop agronomic practices. $90,035.00
Renewing the Countryside Help specialty crop producers grow their businesses in a manner that leads to expanded specialty crop sales and increased profitability and sustainability by providing them with customized assistance. $94,970.00
Sustainable Farming Association Grow the demand and the supply of locally produced herbs through targeted producer and consumer testing and educational initiatives. $53,200.00
Third Sector New England Research and test the market for cosmetically imperfect fruit and vegetables “seconds” grown by small and mid-size farmers in Minnesota through in-depth research with Minnesota fruit and vegetable growers and fresh-cut processors as well as market testing with area college and universities. $96,268.00
University of Minnesota Enhance economic and environmental sustainability of strawberry production by investigating innovative production systems that couple new strawberry cultivars with innovative organic production methods and educating specialty crop growers on using these systems to extend the season until October $83,663.00
University of Minnesota Encourage rural grocers to purchase locally grown specialty crops by developing a how-to guide for specialty crop farmers to sell their produce to rural grocers, developing a produce handling toolkit and deliver on-site training for rural grocers, and developing a local food buying guide. $70,986.00
University of Minnesota Create research-based management recommendations for leaf mold of high tunnel tomatoes by conducting research to characterize the biology and life cycle of the leaf mold pathogen, Passalora fulva, identify potential sources of the pathogen, and determine the ability of the pathogen to overwinter in Minnesota high tunnels. $99,123.00
University of Minnesota Reduce losses from downey mildew and sustain a viable hop industry by characterizing diseases of hops in Minnesota, evaluating management options for hop downey mildew control, and educating hop growers about viral and fungal diseases of hops and their management. $99,947.00
University of Minnesota Develop an in-field method of using spectral reflectance and chlorophyll content to determine potential infection of seed potato plants by Potato Virus Y (PVY), a viral disease of potatoes which, if present, precludes certification of seed potatoes, negatively impacting their commercial value. $100,000.00

Federal Fiscal Year 2013

Grantee Project Summary Project Total
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Increase purchasing from Minnesota’s specialty crop growers by the childcare and school sectors through outreach activities to increase grower’s knowledge of how to sell to childcare programs, curriculum dissemination on how to incorporate farm to school into classrooms, and the development of a formal network. $79,732.00
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Increase producer awareness of specialty crop enterprises and opportunities, increase profitability, diversify the agricultural landscape and enhance the quality of life for farmers and rural communities by developing and running farmer-to-farmer radio broadcasts highlighting 12 Minnesota specialty crop producers and their successes. $30,808.00
Minnesota Food Association Engage in a strategic development process to explore the need and potential for offering additional "food hub" services such as aggregation, sales and distribution to beginning and immigrant farmers growing organic vegetables in the Twin Cities. $40,000.00
Minnesota Grown Promotion Group Increase sales of Minnesota specialty crops by promoting and improving the printed and online versions of the Minnesota Grown Directory; creating innovative new promotional materials for wineries, vegetable growers and nurseries/garden centers; and creating a public television feature program highlighting specialty crops. $99,000.00
Renewing the Countryside Expand markets and increase sales of specialty crops in southern Minnesota by conducting a local foods tradeshow to connect buyers and producers, local foods expo, and creative marketing campaigns. $68,765.00
Sweetland Orchard Increase understanding of the market demands for cider varieties by measuring the state of Minnesota’s hard cider industry through annual surveys of the state’s hard cider producers and sharing results with the Minnesota Farm Winery Association, the Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, and the Minnesota Apple Growers Association. $10,800.00
University of Minnesota Improve producers’ knowledge of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and food safety practices by providing technical assistance, education and tools necessary to support increased adoption of GAPS by specialty crop growers, including Hmong Growers. $88,398.00
University of Minnesota Ensure public food safety of locally-grown leafy greens by enhancing farmer training in Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), studying current on-farm postharvest practices ad their effects on greens bacterial load, and consulting with farmers on the feasibility of GAPs recommendations. $88,358.00
University of Minnesota Evaluation of microbial inoculants and soil carbon amendments for their efficacy alone and in combination in reducing incidence and severity of scab, verticillium wilt, and other soilborne diseases of potato. $94,500.00

Federal Fiscal Year 2012

Grantee Project Summary Project Total
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Create new opportunities for Minnesota growers of fresh fruit and vegetables to sell their produce by addressing key barriers in the child-care marketplace. $84,832.00
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Evaluate the role of soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Masumura as a vector of Potato Virus Y (PVY) in Minnesota seed potato fields and to develop pest management recommendations for growers to use to protect the competitiveness of this valuable specialty crop. $100,000.00
Minnesota Farmers Market Association Assist specialty crop producers, in coordination with their local farmers’ market, in obtaining proper training and equipment to safely demonstrate proper food selection and cooking of fruits and vegetables $28,900.00
Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Provide educational opportunities to Minnesota specialty crop producers through reasonably priced, full day, hands on, interactive workshops. $100,000.00
Minnesota Grown Promotional Group Increase the reach and efficiency of the online Minnesota Grown Directory, develop and distribute point of sale materials to identify and promote Asian vegetables primarily grown and marketed by Hmong farmers, as well as increase demand by educating children about the importance of locally grown produce. $98,000.00
Renewing the Countryside Provide Minnesota specialty crop growers with increased opportunities to develop business relationships with institutional buyers. $50,000.00
University of Minnesota Address critical needs of high tunnel growers through a dynamic website that promotes grower and researcher interaction. $50,900.00
University of Minnesota Increase the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) through workshops and demonstration audits in an effort to improve food safety. $54,500.00
University of Minnesota Provide information to Minnesota strawberry growers on new production methods using low tunnels. $64,900.00

Federal Fiscal Year 2011

Grantee Project Summary Project Total
Institute on Agriculture and Trade Policy Create new selling opportunities for Minnesota growers of fresh fruits and vegetables by addressing key barriers in the burgeoning K-12 school marketplace. $50,000.00
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Develop and deliver workshops and seminars to improve the financial management literacy of specialty crop growers. $90,730.00
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Management of the brown marmorated stink bug conducting field and laboratory research and disseminating research results to growers through presentations at grower meetings and field days as well as via on-line and printed fact sheets. $99,710.00
Minnesota Farmers Market Association Conduct a Farmers’ Market Certificate Program to address the legalities and complexity of operating a sustainable farmers’ market. $45,224.00
Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Increase the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) through workshops and demonstration audits in an effort to improve food safety. $55,000.00
Minnesota Grown Promotion Group Improve efficiency and reduce costs of distribution systems through the development of a mobile phone friendly version of the online Minnesota Grown Directory systems $97,000.00
Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association Promote and increase sales of Minnesota Grown regionally-adapted landscape plants and trees. $27,334.85
Minnesota Turf Seed Council Introduce and market fine fescue grass seed into Minnesota in an effort to provide a reduced input grass variety that has economic benefits for growers and consumers alike. $27,334.85
University of Minnesota & North Dakota State University Develop nitrogen management practices in Minnesota and North Dakota to reduce Acrylamide levels in processed potato producers. $70,522.00
University of Minnesota Reduce the barriers that separate specialty crop growers from school nutrition programs by educating consumers about locally grown specialty crops and creating incentives for school programs to serve more Minnesota specialty crops. $99,917.00