MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Agriculture has been awarded $296,405.62 through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Marketing Service. The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is to increase opportunities for specialty crops, which are defined by the USDA as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” KDA has selected several other recipients to further utilize the funds.
The following is a list of Kansas projects which will be funded by the grant:
- Kansas 4-H Foundation, Rock Springs Specialty Crop Learning Center, $51,930.45 – A living classroom at Rock Springs 4-H Center will provide hands-on learning opportunities for youth and educators. Staff will assist with the establishment of the specialty crops, development of educational programs, and harvesting/production process to utilize the crops in the Center dining facilities.
- Greater Northwest Kansas Community Foundation, Expanding Vegetable Production in Western Kansas, $44,000.00 – The Greater Northwest Kansas Community Foundation and additional partners will expand assistance to growth-oriented vegetable producers, providing support to core growth producers for preparation in delivery to institutional markets, as well as increased specialty crop production in the High Plains food shed.
- Kansas Rural Center, Linking Specialty Crop Farmers, $51,775.00 – Five regional workshops will assist beginning specialty crop growers gain access to necessary educational information. Additionally, experienced and novice growers will be paired to facilitate the transfer of success stories and foundational learning methods.
- Kansas Department of Agriculture, Meet Me at the Market, $62,134.40 – Market managers and vendors will receive resources to increase awareness of specialty crops available at their markets through promotional events, marketing templates and educational workshops.
- Kansas State University, Effective Packing Practices, $70,086.00 – A scientific study will analyze the effectiveness of utilizing a coating for cardboard flats for antimicrobial purposes. A cost-benefit economic analysis will calculate the value of the technology to fruit growers, and interviews with small fruit crop farmers will help understand current packing practices and acceptability of coated cardboard as a tool for shelf-life extension of berries.
For more information, visit KDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant webpage at agriculture.ks.gov/specialtycrop.