Grants to help market Colorado specialty crops

The Colorado Department of Agriculture has awarded more than $712,000 to 14 projects across the state through its Specialty Crops Block Grant Program.

Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, seeds, greenhouse and nursery products and sod. The CDA grants are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service initiatives, and intended to enhance the competitiveness of Colorado’s fruit, vegetable and green industries.

“This funding has provided a tremendous opportunity for Colorado’s agricultural industry to pursue a wide variety of innovative specialty crop projects,” said CDA’s Markets Division Director, Tom Lipetzky.

Among the recently funded projects were a half-dozen in Larimer County:

• $27,000 for the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture to develop a “Colorado Fruit” reader for use in elementary school classrooms.
• $35,800 for Colorado State University to conduct a market and economic analysis of Olathe sweet corn to determine if a processed product is economically viable.
• $28,600 for CSU to facilitate the development of a statewide produce growers’ organization. The group would provide participants comprehensive access to marketing resources, research, food safety and grower education as well as enhance grower-to-grower networking.
• $95,000 for CSU to support small acreage, socially disadvantaged and beginning specialty crop producers. Funds will provide for a specialty crops coordinator and for producer grants for on-farm research and demonstration marketing projects.
• $30,200 for Plant Select to educate the public on the best local plants for western gardens.
• $15,000 for Plant Select to develop a new program, tentatively titled “Small Wonders,” to raise awareness of the strong consumer demand for plants appropriate for smaller spaces.

Other grants were awarded to increase the visibility and access to the state’s wine and potato industries, test plots for new crops on the Eastern Plains, and anew Colorado Proud television advertising campaign.

For more information about the Colorado Specialty Crop Block Grant Program go to www.colorado.gov/ag/specialtycropgrant or call 303- 239-4116.

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