Meet Our Award Recipients
Meet Our Award Recipients
From 2009-2012, the N.C. Value-Added Cost Share (NCVACS) program provides financial support, through matching funds, to:
- producers and processors for the purchase of equipment that will enhance their value-added enterprises;
- producers who applied for the USDA Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG), a nationally competitive program.
The following are stories from NCVACS recipients who received assistance in years 2009-2012. These projects were administered by N.C. Cooperative Extension and funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center through the Family Farm Innovation Fund.
In 2013, NCVACS will focus its priority on working specifically with producer groups, and those stories will be different and dynamic in their own right. Help us write the story of your producer group by applying for NCVACS assistance for your value-added equipment needs.
LOOK FOR MORE INFORMATION IN EARLY 2013!
Equipment Cost Share
108 South Main Street, Warrenton, N.C.
|108 South Main Street, the bakery owned and operated by Carla Norwood and Gabriel Coming is set to open in Fall 2011. The NCVACS award was a vital part of the renovation of the historic property in downtown Warrenton by outfitting much of the commercial kitchen equipment critical to the production of value-added baked goods. In addition to basics such as an oven, range, mixer and sinks, the two purchased refrigerators for storing fresh produce and a large freezer for preserving produce and storing an inventory of frozen pies and breads they plan to market to grocery stores and restaurants. The bakery plans to purchase 75 percent of its ingredients from North Carolina producers. While sweet and savory pies will be the primary canvas for their locally purchased products, they also plan to offer baked goods, burritos, smoothies and brunch, potentially expanding into organic baby food in future years.|
Bame Farms, Salisbury, N.C.
Bluebird Hill Farm, Bennett, N.C.
Blue Ridge Apiaries, Hudson, N.C.
Blue Ridge Food Ventures, Candler, N.C.
Carolina Ground, L3C, Asheville, N.C.
|Carolina Ground, a new regional food venture in Asheville, N.C., will stone mill Carolina-grown grains into bread flour and pastry flour. They will market through North Carolina and the southeastern United States, but they will specifically focus on building relationships with bakeries. NCVACS cost share funds were utilized to purchase the stone mill, packaging equipment, a bench scale and grain testing tools. The establishment of this business aims to enable the farmer to get the best possible price for grain while providing an affordable product (outside the commodities market) to the baker.|
Carolina Heritage Vineyard and Winery, Elkin, N.C.
Chapel Hill Creamery, Chapel Hill, N.C.
|Portia McKnight and Flo Hawley are co-owners of Chapel Hill Creamery, a small dairy farm and farmstead cheese-making facility in Chapel Hill, N.C. They raise a small herd of Jersey cows that provide 100 percent of the milk used in the production of a variety of special cheeses, including personal takes on Asiago, Camembert, feta, mozzarella and others.|
|With the NCVACS award, Chapel Hill Creamery expanded production of its Camembert cheese (“Carolina Moon”) by adding new equipment. NCVACS also funded a feasibility study and a grant writer to help the creamery apply for a USDA Working Capital VAPG grant. The VAPG funds will allow Chapel Hill Creamery to increase distribution for their cheeses, increase operating efficiencies in the cheese-making process and develop a branded marketing program. Read more about Chapel Hill Creamery.|
East Fork Farm, Marshall, N.C.
|Steve and Dawn Robertson established East Fork Farm 16 years ago in Marshall, N.C. Their primary farm product is lamb, but they process around 100 poultry each week for tailgate markets, restaurants and specialty grocery stores. The poultry include chicken, duck and, at Thanksgiving, turkey. NCVACS funding helped the Robertsons purchased a scalder, waterproof scales, a chill tank and other processing tools. The equipment allowed them to improve productivity by upgrading aging equipment and adding pieces that improved labor efficiency. East Fork Farm has developed a niche by selling fresh poultry – never frozen. They take pride in the quality of their processing skills and look to remain an on-farm processor to ensure the best quality product for their customers.|
Elizabeth’s Pecan Products, Turkey, N.C.
|In addition to raw pecans, Elizabeth’s Pecan Products in Turkey, N.C., produces a variety of chocolate-coated pecan products, including a chocolate-covered pecan brittle, butter-roasted chocolate pecans and raspberry-flavored chocolate pecans. Alan Bundy, owner, has used funding from NCVACS to purchase equipment that will allow him to do more processing and packaging in-house.|
|He is adding seemers – equipment that seals pecan containers – and a 34-foot chocolate coating machine. By bringing the entire production process under one roof, Bundy hopes that the chocolate-coated portion of his business will see further growth. Learn more about Elizabeth’s Pecan Products.|
Farmers Roasted Soynuts, Sanford, N.C.
|Chris Gaster is a third generation farmer who grows 650 acres of soybeans in addition to tobacco and corn. Some of those soybeans are used to create a savory snack food—flavored, roasted soynuts. Gaster, owner of Farmers Roasted Soynuts, received an NCVACS award to purchase soybean cleaning equipment and a seasoning applicator. In addition to increased efficiency, this equipment has improved the consistency of the product, now available in two flavors: original and spicy.|
|This value-added product can be purchased online (www.farmersroastedsoynuts.com) in local convenience stores and local grocers.|
Holloway Farms, Apex, N.C.
Holly Grove Farms, Mount Olive, N.C.
Independent Small Animal Meat Processors Association of Western North Carolina, Marion, N.C.
Ingram Farm, High Point, N.C.
|Ingram Farm is a third generation Century Farm in High Point, N.C. Former tobacco farmers, the Ingrams are transitioning to an agritourism destination, offering value-added food products and an educational experience for visitors. The Ingrams have been growing strawberries for more than 25 years offering pre-picked or pick-your-own berries. In addition, they sell strawberry jams, jellies and baked goods from “Ingram’s Country Kitchen.” With funding assistance from NCVACS, homemade strawberry ice cream was added to the list of strawberry treats. The Ingrams purchased a commercial ice cream freezer that makes 1.5 gallons every 10 minutes, a three-door freezer and a display cooler. They sell the ice cream from the farmstand, and at local farmers markets. It’s available hand-dipped, pint or half-pint. In addition to ice cream, the machine can also make strawberry sorbet. They anticipate being able to sell the ice cream from mid-April through early November. Dean Ingram explains that the cost share award “pushed us to go ahead and do it, where we would have been on a different time table without the funding.” They feel that they’ve just scratched the surface this year for the market potential. They plan to more aggressively market the availability of homemade ice cream next year and will include it as part of a tiered price structure for school groups who visit the farm in spring and fall.|
Looking Back Farms, Tyner, N.C.
Mays Meats, Taylorsville, N.C.
|Mays Meats in Taylorsville, N.C., is utilizing its cost share funding from NCVACS to expand its processing and storage capabilities with an aging cooler and expanded rail system. Jimmy Mays, owner, said the rail system and cooling space will increase livestock capacity by 20 to 25 percent. Currently, the company employs about 50 people and processes 50 to 60 cattle each week.|
|The expansion is not a moment too soon; farmers must currently place orders well in advance to secure Mays’ meat processing services. Meats processed at the facility are delivered to farms, restaurants and retailers within 150 miles. Read more about NCVACS award recipient, Mays Meats.|
Millchap Purveyors, Charlotte, N.C.
|Jennifer Chapman and Michelle Miller are co-owners of Millchap Purveyors and Polka Dot Bake Shop in Charlotte, N.C. The duo operate a full service bakery, but have found sweet success in one specialty product – sweet potato crackers. Made using thousands of pounds of real, farm-fresh sweet potatoes, grown in North Carolina, the crackers are available in a variety of flavors. Currently, the crackers are sold in 200 stores across the country and North Carolina.|
|The NCVACS award helped Millchap Purveyors purchase four pieces of equipment including a machine to seal its bags of sweet potato crackers. The new bags increase the shelf life of the crackers, allowing them to be shipped further and into new markets. With the new equipment in place, Chapman thinks the company can double its sales of the sweet potato crackers in 2011. Read more about Millchap Purveyors.|
Nooherooka Natural, Snow Hill, N.C.
Rock of Ages, Hurdle Mills, N.C.
|Established in 2005, Rock of Ages Winery offers 22 different wines. With the addition of three 3,000-gallon fermentation tanks, purchased with the assistance of the NCVACS program, they have been able to double their capacity. “Without the cost share, we would not have been able to expand as quickly as we have,” says owner Kevin Moore. While they sell much of their wine through the vineyard’s tasting room, they also have distributors who make the wine available throughout North Carolina and into Virginia.|
Rockingham Community Kitchen, Reidsville, N.C.
Sky Top Orchard, Zirconia, N.C.
|David and Lindsey Butler own and operate Sky Top Orchard in Zirconia, N.C. The orchard, started by David and his father in 1967, originally shipped apples to commercial grocery stores. In the 1980s, the family diversified to become a pick-your-own farm. As an agritourism destination, they offer family activities, scenic views and culinary treats made with apples (such as cider and doughnuts). Most recently, they have expanded their line of apple products to include homemade pies. The NCVACS award helped purchase a double stack oven, two coolers and a freezer. The pies will be available fresh and frozen. Learning about the cost share program from their N.C. Cooperative Extension agent, the Butlers say that the funding is “very helpful to a small business that is expanding into new ventures.”|
Spinning Spider Creamery, Marshall, N.C.
Sunburst Trout Farms, Canton, N.C.
|Sally and Steve Eason are second generation co-owners of Sunburst Trout Farms in Canton, N.C. Sunburst raises and finishes trout, which is then processed into a variety of value-added products, including plain, marinated and encrusted fillets; smoked trout; smoked trout dip; trout caviar; and trout burgers, sausage and jerky.|
|The NCVACS equipment cost share award helped Sunburst Trout Farms expand their capacity for smoking trout. NCVACS also funded a feasibility study and grant writer to help with the USDA Working Capital VAPG award, which Sunburst will use to increase marketing for its value-added products and increase sales in new markets. Read more about Sunburst Trout.
The Pasta Wench, Deep Gap, N.C.
Andrea Morrell is owner of The Pasta Wench, a line of all-natural gourmet ravioli and homemade gourmet sauces using organic ingredients, many North Carolina-grown. Equipment purchased with cost share funding from the NCVACS program included a ravioli machine, braising pan, commercial blender and commercial mixer. This financial support will increase Morrell’s ability to supply pasta as she anticipates a doubling of sales in the next couple of years.
Thompson Poultry, Troy, N.C.
|Thompson Poultry in Troy, N.C., has been raising and processing pastured poultry for three years. The chickens are sold locally at the Moore County Farmers Market. Funding from NCVACS will improve processing efficiency and increase profit potential, according to owner, Justin Thompson. He previously relied on a commercial processing plant which was a costly input. The equipment purchased through the cost share program included a scalder, plucker and chill tank. The new on-farm processing equipment allows Thompson to process more chickens on a more regular basis, as well as reducing the time for processing each bird.|
Two Chicks Farm, Hillsborough, N.C.
Warren Wilson College Farm, Swannanoa, N.C.
|The Farm at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, N.C., was established in 1894. Supported by student workers, the farm offers hands-on experience in crop and livestock agriculture. The farm is in the process of expanding their production operation to include charcuterie and curing meats. The NCVACS award provided financial assistance toward the purchase of refrigerators for aging, a meat slicer, a vacuum sealer, a sausage stuffer, knives and other miscellaneous food handling equipment. The farm markets their meats through on-farm sales and a customer e-mail list. Chase Hubbard, farm manager, hopes that adding a value-added component to the farm operation will demonstrate a profitable approach to selling natural meats.|
Grant Writing/Feasibility Studies Cost Share
Nine value-added producers in North Carolina received a financial boost as recipients of the first cycle of the NCVACS program, announced in December 2009. This cycle was designed to focus on supplementing the cost of professional grant writers and feasibility studies. Cost share awards ranged from $3,500 to $23,500.
- Ron Cottle: Cottle Farms is based in Faison, N.C., and plans to develop a marketing campaign to introduce new lines of muscadine grape products for North Carolina growers.
- Jon Dorman and Della Williams: Dairy goat farmers located in Pelham, N.C., and producers of a variety of artisan cheeses they direct market as SleepyGoat Cheese in north central North Carolina and south central Virginia.
- Sally & Steve Eason: The second generation of Easons to own and operate Sunburst Trout Farms in Canton, N.C., Sally and Steve will work to increase marketing for their value-added products – such as smoked trout, trout burgers and trout caviar – and increase sales in new markets.
- Ossie and Mary Betty Kearney, Andrew Kearney: Owners of Nooherooka Natural in Snow Hill, N.C., the Kearneys direct market all-natural, Black Angus beef products to wholesale and retail outlets in eastern and central North Carolina.
- Portia McKnight and Flo Hawley: Chapel Hill Creamery will work to increase distribution for their cheeses, increase operating efficiencies in the cheese-making process and develop a branded marketing program.
- Henry and Tracy Moore: Bobcat Farms, in Clinton, N.C., is a diversified beef and swine operation that direct markets beef to retail consumers in central North Carolina.
- Chuck Moore and Richard Parker: These organic dairymen produce a line of artisan and specialty cheeses at Honey Mountain Farm.
- Smoky Mountain Native Plants Association: Located in western North Carolina, this producer group grows and harvests ramp, wild mountain leeks that grow at high elevations in the Appalachian Mountains. The ramp is processed for seasoning packets and rampmeal.