Now that we’re heading into the winter months, many farmers are taking stock of their farm’s 2010 performance, and thinking about ways they can improve their production, marketing and/or business management in the coming year. Those improvements often involve obtaining education or technical assistance. And those things can cost money.
That’s where the Vermont Farm Women’s Fund can help. The fund is now accepting proposals for its next round of grants to help women farmers improve their businesses or become more involved in agricultural policy development. The deadline for proposals is midnight Jan. 24.
VFWF, which is administered by the University of Vermont (UVM) Extension Women’s Agricultural Network (WagN), provides three types of grants. Farm Business Development Fund awards provide financial support for education and travel to help recipients improve some aspect of their business. Leadership Development Fund awards help individuals develop leadership skills and access opportunities to participate in agricultural policy development. These awards are capped at $750.
In addition, VFWF offers Scholarship Initiative awards of up to $150 to enable farm women to attend agricultural and business management classes, conferences, and other training. Priority is given to Vermont women who own or work on a farm and who earn a majority of their income from agriculture-related activities. A panel of Vermont farm women makes the decisions for this award.
To help applicants develop strong proposals, VFWF also will offer two free grant writing information sessions on Jan. 6 to answer questions and help prospective applicants understand the elements of a successful proposal. One session will be held at the UVM Extension Office in Berlin from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. The other, a webinar is scheduled for 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
To register for either grant writing session, go to www.uvm.edu/~vfwf/?Page=workshopregistration.html. To apply online for any of the grants, visit the VFWF web site at www.uvm.edu/~vfwf. Click on the “Application Forms” link.
Or call toll-free (866) 860-1382, ext. 204, or (802) 223-2389, ext. 204, for an application package or to register for a grant writing session. Anyone requiring accommodations to participate in either session should call either number by Dec. 15.
Since 2008, when VFWF first began offering grants and scholarships, more than $14,000 has been awarded to Vermont women farmers. Recipients have used the funding to help research and develop new products, conduct feasibility studies, and attend workshops, conferences, and classes to learn more about marketing, business management, and value-added production.
VFWF was established by Vermont author and photographer Peter Miller, who donates a percentage of his Vermont Farm Women book sales to the fund. Additional funding comes from the John Merck Fund, the Vermont Community Foundation, Key Bank Foundation, Vermont Country Store, National Life of Vermont, Washington Electric Cooperative, TD Charitable Foundation, Northfield Savings Bank, and many individual donors, including farm women. UVM Extension and WagN provide in-kind support.