CARBONDALE – An advocate for rural communities, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon announced today that four grants from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) have been awarded to organizations in Illinois.
“This funding will help local food producers grow their operations and provide greater access to local foods,” said Simon, the only constitutional officer from Southern Illinois. “Expanding local foods in Illinois is good for the health of our citizens and our economy.”
The FMPP provides grants to projects that help improve and expand farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. Priority was given to projects that expanded healthy food choices in food deserts.
Simon chairs the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council (GRAC), which is working to eliminate barriers to local food production in Illinois. The Lt. Governor will host GRAC’s quarterly meeting today from 2 to 4 p.m. at John A. Logan College in Carterville.
Simon promoted the availability of FMPP funding and wrote a letter of support on behalf of the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees, helping secure $81,058 to establish a Farmers Market Association that will provide professional development, resources and support for farmers, markets, and communities. This will include development of a farmers market manager training manual and a statewide database to connect farmers to markets.
“Southern Illinois University applauds Lt. Governor Simon for her work and encouragement of the growth and expansion of home grown food markets,” SIU President Glenn Poshard said. “These venues provide nutritional and affordable sources of food and serve as a novel and innovative way to strengthen our rural economies.”
Another Southern Illinois organization, Food Works of Carbondale, was awarded $89,648 to conduct a comprehensive training and mentoring program for 60 new farmers and ranchers in Southern Illinois so that they can establish farmers markets, roadside stands and other direct-marketing venues. Food Works is scheduled to present its plans for the grant at today’s GRAC meeting.
Other winners include:
- Growing Home Inc., of Chicago, received $79,300 to establish a new farm stand for the sale of vegetables from its urban farm, purchase refrigeration equipment and other marketing supplies, and conduct educational programs.
- Faith in Place, of Chicago, got $39,270 to help grow its 15 Chicago-area winter farmers markets and support the development of a congregational-supported Community Supported Agriculture program in Champaign.
The FMPP made an investment of over $9.2 million this year and gave out 149 awards in 42 states across the country.