The City of Martinsville will receive $4,088 through the inaugural round of the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industry Development (AFID) Fund Infrastructure Grant Program.
This project will help the city improve the Uptown Martinsville Farmers’ Market, with funds tapped to buy shades to protect produce and vendors from the sun, new commercial grade scales to speed transactions, and a storage shed. In addition to securing valuable items when the market is closed, it will serve as an office for the market manager and provide an easily identifiable location for customers to go to take advantage of SNAP benefits.
Along with Martinsville, Gov. Ralph Northam announced seven additional projects that will receive nearly $160,000 in funding to support local food systems and include new and existing meat processors, goat dairies, farmers’ markets, and community canneries.
“With agriculture as our largest industry and often the biggest driver of our rural economies, making targeted investments that our farmers and food producers rely on is vitally important,” said Northam. “These grants will help to diversify Virginia’s agriculture across every corner of the Commonwealth. I congratulate the communities on putting forward such compelling projects and thank them for their partnership.”
The AFID Infrastructure Program funds a wide variety of projects that will have a direct impact both on producers through infrastructure improvements, and on consumers by expanding access to fresh, local products. In addition, over half of the project are in economically distressed communities, with several focusing on expanding fresh food access to underserved communities using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and Virginia Fresh Match.
“Virginia agriculture is in many ways sustained by the community of small farmers and food producers making high-quality products for their local communities, said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “By partnering with these communities to make small, but meaningful investments in these local food systems, we are helping to unlock the potential of these farmers and food producers to do even more. I am pleased with the quality and variety of projects that this new program from the AFID Fund is able to support and look forward to many more shared successes supporting sustainable agriculture in the Commonwealth.”
In 2021, Northam signed House Bill 2068, creating the AFID Infrastructure Program. The new program competitively awards matching grants of up to $25,000 in partnership with local governments to develop community infrastructure development supporting local food production and sustainable agriculture. Targeted projects include food hubs, farmers markets, commercial kitchens and other value-added facilities such as those for the processing and packaging of meats, dairy products, produce, or other Virginia-grown products. The AFID Infrastructure Program provides reduced match requirements for economically distressed and underserved localities and promotes projects that serve multiple producers.