The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is awarding $30,000 in microgrants to beginning farmers across the state impacted by the pandemic.
The OEFFA Begin Farming Pandemic Relief Microgrants are intended to mitigate the pandemic’s economic impact on beginning farmers in Ohio with direct financial assistance. After an application period, eight recipients were selected:
- Louise Gartner, Fox Tail Farm (Clermont Co.)
- Brandon Lester, Omni Acres Farm (Fairfield Co.)
- Andrew Needham, Needham Gardens (Cuyahoga Co.)
- Jesse Rickard, Fox Hollow Farm Naturally (Knox Co.)
- Christopher Roe, Saunders Valley Organics (Clark Co.)
- Cory Stratton, Truest Farms (Champaign Co.)
- Samantha Wickham, Foxhole Farm (Montgomery Co.)
- Taylor Wiggins, From Scratch Farm (Licking Co.)
The funds are intended to offset the costs of operating a farm business, such as purchasing a manure spreader and paying for electrical system upgrades.
“As beginning farmers, starting a new farm is difficult enough, and trying to do it in the midst of the pandemic added unique challenges,” said Taylor Wiggins of From Scratch Farm. “Our grant will be used to complete our new wash and pack building to ensure we have adequate facilities for our team and farm growth.”
Overall, almost $550,000 was requested in funding by 127 applicants. This level of demand shows how beginning farmers across the state have been impacted by the pandemic and underlines the need for ongoing support.
“Having worked with beginning farmers across the state, it’s become apparent that new farm operations were especially susceptible to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, and that direct financial assistance could help them to address some of those obstacles,” said Robin Hackett, OEFFA Begin Farming Program Coordinator.
This funding was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program.
According to the USDA, Ohio is home to more than 33,000 beginning farmers, the sixth-largest number of any state in the country. OEFFA’s Begin Farming Program provides these early career farmers—as well as those aspiring to become farmers—with the support they need to start and grow their own farm businesses. OEFFA’s Begin Farming programming includes internship and apprenticeship opportunities, one-on-one technical support and land-access counseling, a farm-link website for landowners and land-seekers, and a suite of workshops and courses designed to help farmers build viable farm businesses.
To learn more about OEFFA’s Begin Farming Program, visit beginfarming.oeffa.org.