Media Release: RAFI Celebrates 18 Years of Awarding Grants to Farmers at Pickett Farm on Nov. 5th


October 21, 2014
Contact: Jean Willoughby
jean@rafiusa.org, (919) 621-8453
For Immediate Release

NC Nonprofit Celebrates 18 Years of Awarding Grants to Farmers
Free Public Event at Pickett Farm on November 5, 2014

Pittsboro, NC — In 2015, the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) will celebrate 18 years of serving small and mid-scale family farmers across North Carolina through the organization’s innovative grant program, the Agricultural Reinvestment Fund.* To commemorate this achievement and kick-off a new round of grant-making, RAFI will hold a major public event on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 from 1-3 pm. Judy and Gene Pickett, former tobacco growers and current grantees of the program, will host the event at their multi-generational family farm in Duplin County at 258 Henry Dunn Pickett Road, Beulaville, NC. Previous farmer grant recipients will be on hand at the event to speak about their projects. Farmers from across the region are expected to attend. The event is free and open to the public and will include demonstrations of creative farm business ideas for farmers and the general public. Attendees are encouraged to register online: http://rafiusa.org/kickoff2015/

Since the inception of its grant program in 1997, RAFI has funded more than 530 farmer-led agricultural projects across NC. Since 2002, RAFI’s grant program has been largely funded through generous support from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, which is currently the exclusive source of financial support for the program. Citing the end of the USDA’s Tobacco Transition Payment Program, the ‘tobacco buyout,’ RAFI affirms that these projects are especially relevant now. The TTPP started in 2004 and pays tobacco producers and quota holders through 2014 to transition to new agricultural production or leave the tobacco industry.

“Each year, RAFI seeks out the most innovative and creative farmers from around the state. We look to these folks to demonstrate profitable ways to make a living in small and mid-scale agriculture, and to share their lessons with their neighbors and community members,” said Joe Schroeder, RAFI’s Farm Sustainability Program Director.

The grant program supports farmers and rural communities in developing new and innovative sources of agricultural income through the provision of cost-share grants. More than 80% of the projects have been successful in helping farmers reinvigorate their farms. The dual nature of the program entails both the funding of projects and facilitating peer-to-peer learning opportunities for farmers. The grant program seeks to fund projects that are replicable to better ensure the potential of wider adoption and a greater impact on rural economies.

“We have always pointed to the potential of our grant program to be a model to the rest of the country, particularly in rural communities in the midst of an agricultural transition and challenging economic pressures. We applaud the tremendous support of the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, which will allow RAFI to continue serving hardworking, innovative family farmers at the forefront of agricultural transition,” said Scott Marlow, Executive Director of RAFI.

*Formerly known as the Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund.

The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) is a 501c3 organization based in Pittsboro, NC. RAFI’s mission is to cultivate markets, policies and communities that support thriving, socially just, and environmentally sound family farms. www.rafiusa.org

###