Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant Program History

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is authorized under Section 101 of the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 (7 U.S.C. 1621 note) and amended under section 10107 of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, Public Law 115-343 (the Farm Bill). The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS) awards Specialty Crop Block Grants to the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. In Vermont, the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) administers these funds to enhance the competitiveness of Vermont and regionally grown specialty crops.

Grants Awarded in 2019
  • Food Connects to develop new wholesale customers, supply chain relationships, and marketing materials to serve markets in the Upper Valley ($45,000) 
  • University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to improve available resources for pest and disease monitoring, diagnosis, and education for Vermont beekeepers and the Vermont Apiary Inspection Program ($52,000) 
  • University of Vermont Extension Vegetable & Berry Team to develop comprehensive fertilizer recommendations for high tunnel vegetable crops, with a focus on tomatoes ($32,785) 
  • University of Vermont Department of Plant and Soil Science to survey heirloom and feral hops varieties for resistance to fungal and insect pests ($20,000)
  • University of Vermont Extension Vegetable & Berry Team to evaluate the benefits and challenges of implementing brassica cover crops in vegetable production systems ($47,584) 
  • University of Vermont Department of Plant and Soil Science to control the spread of Asian earthworm pests (Amynthas species) and disseminate results to the horticultural industry ($23,805) 
  • Vermont Quince Company to support commercial and backyard quince (Cydonia oblonga) growers in the region with field research, historical data aggregation, and outreach to existing and prospective quince growers ($10,000) 
  • Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets to incorporate local specialty crop market opportunities into community development and revitalization projects, including grants to be awarded to municipalities. ($74,755) 
Grants Awarded in 2018
  • Ardelia Farm & Co. to develop a laboratory for the micro-propagation of specialty ranunculus cultivars ($20,274)
  • High Mowing Organic Seeds to prevent the spread of seed borne plant pathogens through steam treatment of organic specialty crops ($10,400)
  • University of Vermont Extension Vegetable & Berry Team to provide technical assistance to vegetable growers for nutrient management ($29,798)
  • University of Vermont Fruit Program to provide experiential-based technical support trainings for new and prospective apple and grape growers ($25,963)
  • Vermont Fresh Network to increase the competitiveness of Vermont wine through restaurants and agritourism opportunities ($13,947)
  • Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association to establish a Vermont maple sugar house food safety certification program ($35,000)
  • Vermont Fruit Tree Growers Association to increase the marketing capability of Vermont’s apple industry ($7,995)
  • Vital Communities to plan and execute an Upper Valley producer-buyer forum ($11,595)
  • Walking Onion Nursery to assess the commercial opportunities for new perennial food crops ($18,915)
  • Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets to assess conditions, trends, opportunities and constraints for expanding maple syrup consumption in export markets ($31,000)
  • Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets to provide grants to Vermont produce growers to implement on-farm improvements that reduce produce safety risks ($50,000)
  • Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets to strengthen local direct-to-consumer marketing ($53,000)
Grants Awarded in 2017
  • University of Vermont Entomology Research Laboratory to develop techniques for field production of saffron in Vermont ($30,000)
  • Salvation Farms to provide institutional access to Vermont's surplus crops ($24,542)
  • University of Vermont Department of Plant & Soil Science to research regionally adapted entomopathogenic nematodes as a biological control for Colorado potato beetle ($40,563)
  • The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont for organic specialty crop costs of production research and technical assistance to enhance farm viability ($39,673)
  • University of Vermont Fruit Program to evaluate wine grape cultivars and conduct virus screenings to support the Vermont grape industry ($33,680)
  • Green Mountain Farm to School to expand the Vermont Harvest of the Month program through production planning with schools to increase specialty crop sales ($32,660)
  • The Vermont Agency of Agriculture to develop a direct to consumer marketing program ($53,000)
Grants Awarded in 2016
  • Upstream Ag/Pitchfork Farm to develop a food-grade stainless steel leafy greens spinner and wash-line kit ($18,000)
  • University of Vermont Extension to conduct field studies on maximizing nitrogen release from legume cover crops on Vermont vegetable farms ($29,965)
  • University of Vermont Department of Plant & Soil Science to field test plant essential oils and pest pheromones to control swede midge, an invasive pest of brassica crops ($36,055)
  • University of Vermont Gund Institute for Ecological Economics to develop management techniques for locally sourced native bees as alternative pollinators for Vermont specialty crops ($13,151)
  • The Vermont Fresh Network to increase the competitiveness of the Vermont wines in Vermont restaurants ($20,000)
  • University of Vermont Department of Plant & Soil Science to undertake a pest monitoring and management study to address the spread of leek moth and its impact on allium crops ($39,023)
  • The Vermont Agency of Agriculture’s Food Systems Section to develop a direct to consumer marketing program ($52,802)
Completed Projects

Program Contact

Gina Clithero
AGR.SpecialtyCrops@vermont.gov
(802) 585-6225

WebGrants Technical Assistance

Melissa Moon
melissa.moon@vermont.gov
(802) 828-3828

Contact Information

Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

116 State Street
Montpelier, Vt 05620-2901
802.828.2430

 

Program Contacts

  • Media Inquiries                      802.622.4662
  • Licensing & Registration        802.828.2436
  • Business Development          802.828.1619
  • Feed, Seed, Fertilizer & Lime  802.828.5050
  • Working Lands                    802.622.4477
  • Public Health & Resource Management                802.828.2431
  • Laboratory                                  802.585.6073
  • Animal Health                        802.828.2421
  • Dairy                              802.828.2433
  • Consumer Protection / Weights & Measures                           802.828.2433
  • Produce Program                  802.522.7811
  • Meat Inspection                    802.828.2426
  • Water Quality                               802.828.2431
    • Grants                                  802.622.4098
    • Enforcement                                802.828.2431
    • Reports                                      802.272.0323
    • BMP's                                      802.828.3474
  • Act 250                          802.828.2431 
  • Pesticide                        802.828.2431