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Workshop to bolster grant writing skills for local, regional food businesses
food grants pic
Local food producers can get information on grants available through the USDA's Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program at a series of workshops being hosted by the UC Cooperative Extension. - photo by Journal file photo

Just as local and regional food producers boost the local economy, the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources hopes to boost local and regional food businesses by teaching effective grantwriting skills in a series of workshops this month.

“The workshop is open to anyone interested in connecting agricultural producers and consumers through local food systems,” said Jennifer Sowerwine, assistant cooperative extension specialist in the Environmental Science Policy and Management at University of California, Berkeley.

“This is a great opportunity to strengthen the local economy, support small-scale farmers, and make fresh, healthy food more accessible to the community,” continued Sowerwine.

As a collaborative effort between the UC ANR, the United States Department of Agriculture, and Regional Rural Development Centers, these workshops are intended to help potential applicants understand, develop and submit federal grant applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, which was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

Through this program, applicants are able to vie for a portion of $30 million in grants each year through 2018. These funds will be divided between the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program.

Sowerine, who will be instructing these workshops, reported that attendees will learn more about the differences between the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program.

“They are both similar in the sense that they increase the availability of locally and regionally produced foods in local and regional markets,” said Sowerwine.

However, according to Sowerwine, the main goal of FMPP is to promote direct farm-to-consumer marketing. Through promoting farm stands, farmers markets, and agritourism, FMPP benefits the connections made between farmers and consumers.

For LFPP, Sowerwine looks more to bolster the relationships involved in promoting the product from farmer to distributor or from the distributor to the retail outlet.

“There are different steps along the way from farmer to consumer,” said Sowerwine. 

Sowerwine also noted that the event will also help organizations who have not been successful in previous grant-writing attempts or those who may have never applied before.

 “We’ll teach them all the nuts and bolts of applying for a grant—from how to write an effective grant all the way to developing the goals they hope to achieve with their projects,” said Sowerwine.

The USDA is hosting these workshops nationwide, and each state was required to provide at least one workshop. However, after taking into consideration the size of California, UC ANR decided to host more workshops to reach a broader audience.

 “There is evidence that a lot of the counties in the Central Valley are some of the counties that have the biggest challenges, so we hope to help those organizations who promote local food in that region,” said Sowerwine.

The workshop in Modesto is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday at the Stanislaus County Ag Center, 3800 Cornucopia Way. For more information about the program, contact Sowerwine at (510) 664-7043 or

To register, visit Registration is $10 and includes lunch, training, materials, and other resources.

Other grant-writing workshops include one on Wednesday at 155 Kroeber Hall, UC Berkeley; April 15 at the UC ANR building, 2801 Second St. in Davis; and April 22 at North Valley Catholic Social Services, 2400 Washington Ave. in Redding. All workshops are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To apply for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, visit All applications must be submitted by 8:59 p.m. on May 14, although Sowerwine encourages applicants to begin the application process as soon as possible to ensure they meet the deadline.