Agricultural Reinvestment Fund

RAFI-USA’s Agricultural Reinvestment Fund grant program assists entrepreneurial and innovative farmers and collaborative groups in developing new sources of agricultural income. This grant program has funded more than 600 farming projects and distributed more than $6 million in funds to agricultural communities.

In partnership with the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, the Agricultural Reinvestment Fund awards grants of up to $9,000 to individual farmers and up to $11,000 for collaborative farmer projects located in North Carolina. We award at least 25 grants per year.

RAFI-USA initiated the grant program in 1997, originally known as the Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund, to help beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers in historically tobacco-dependent communities transition their farms to become more economically viable. Today, the grant program is dedicated to helping all types of farmers transform and strengthen their farms, enhancing their sustainability and financial viability. In turn, grant recipients are able to demonstrate new ideas and innovative models for farm profitability to other farmers in their communities.

Program Impact (2012-2018)

  • 148 cost-share grants awarded to farmers
  • 667 jobs created
  • 27,419 acres of farmland preserved
  • Nearly $1.25 Million invested in rural communities
  • $1,370,854.09 invested by farmers


2019 Grant Program

RAFI-USA is pleased to announce its 2018 grant program received 90 applications, 83 of which were eligible for the program. This year, we awarded 26 grants. Here are the highlights:
  • $237,825 awarded to 26 projects
  • 23 grants to individual farmer projects
  • 3 grants to collaborative farmer groups
  • Types of projects include: dairy, education, fiber, equipment, fruits, grains, hemp, horticulture, hydroponics, livestock, marketing, medicinal herbs, poultry, water management, and value-added products
  • Grantees represent 11 counties:  Alamance, Bertie, Caswell, Chatham, Chowan, Franklin, Granville, Orange, Rowan, Wake, Warren
  • 7 recipients are former tobacco quota holders
  • 12 recipients are current or former tobacco farmers
  • ~ 49% are Beginning Farmers (under 10 years in operation)
  • ~ 6% are Veteran Farmers
  • ~ 51% are Women Farmers
  • ~ 49% are Minority Farmers
  • ~ 29% are Young Farmers (under 35 years of age)

2019 Grant Recipients

Howard Allen, Faithfull Farms – Orange County

In order to increase seedling production for field cultivation as well as seasonal seedling sales, Howard will build a passive solar greenhouse. The temperature-stable environment will allow the farm to produce a wide array of products year-round, provide the capacity to increase microgreen production, and enhance their ability to propagate perennial plants throughout the year.

  Teresa Apperson – Davie County

Teresa plans to make tinctures, topicals, and edibles with their organically-grown industrial hemp. For the 2019 growing season, she will purchase a rotary evaporator which will allow them to extract the medicinal qualities from the plants in-house with less expense and loss.  With new extraction equipment, Teresa’s more vertically integrated operation will translate into a reasonably priced, value-added product for her community.

  Beverly Bowen, Blackwell’s Farm – Caswell County

Beverly will introduce the production of various grain crops as a supplement feed for pasture-raised cattle. By supplementing grain as a food and protein source for her cattle, she will be able to increase the number of cattle grazed per acre, lower the feed cost for cattle weight gain, and reduce the need for pasture during drought and low productions seasons.

  Kamal Bell, Sankofa Farms LLC (Collaborative Project) – Orange County

The Sankofa Cover Crop Collaborative is an initiative between four farms within a 5-mile radius located in Cedar Grove. The collaborative will acquire equipment, like a seed drill, that will improve soil quality & crop yields, incorporate regenerative agriculture practices, and provide economic and educational opportunities for surrounding youth and community. Area farmers will be able to access the seed drill with the option to barter and exchange materials.

  Kristin Bulpitt, Copeland Springs Farm – Chatham County

The Copeland Springs Kitchen will be a space to create healthy prepared meals from their farm products. These ready-to-eat food products will fill an existing market gap for convenient, healthy food options with a target audience for families that don’t have the time, knowledge, or desire to prepare their own healthy food from scratch. Kristen will start with preparing two salads and one soup in the certified kitchen.

  Jessica Carroll, Razin’ Cane Farms – Warren County

Razin’ Cane will expand the production of their sorghum syrup through the construction of an enclosed building which will house their evaporator. The building will also include drainage and refrigeration to create a streamlined process for turning sorghum stalks into syrup. By setting up the evaporator in the enclosed building they will be able to cook down the juice into syrup faster and sell a higher volume of produce through farmers markets, local stores, and events.

  Carolyn Cheek, JAC Farm – Warren County

In order to address the lack of accessible grocery outlets in Warren County, JAC Farms will offer JAC Boxes – a weekly crate of fresh vegetables and fruits for $25 each. The boxes will include produce grown by JAC Farms, as well as nutritious recipe and meal planning cards. JAC Farms will increase their vegetable production through enhancements to their high tunnel infrastructure including, solar system heating and drip tape irrigation.

  Lea Clayton, River Song Farm – Alamance County

Green Heart CSA (Community Support Apothecary) will expand production and marketing through fence development at RiverSong Farm, an herb dryer, and website development. Building on the success of previous years, Lea will grow CSA memberships and sales through partnership building with local health care practitioners, development of new remedies for adults, children and expectant mothers, and offering more GreenHeart Herbal Classes.

  Helen Crisp, HTS Farm, LLC – Caswell County

This project aims to build the first commercial hydroponic facility in Caswell County. This project will enable HTS Farm to grow 365 days a year in a controlled climate, thereby increasing the productivity and sales of their farm operation.

  Roger Dasilva, Dasilva Homestead – Warren County

In order to increase the income stream of the meat and dairy goat production, Roger’s project will involve the preparation of previously forested land for rotational grazing as well as repurposing an existing structure for additional shelter, birthing, and milking space. The implementation of rotational grazing will increase the use of the land’s available resources while decreasing high feed costs.

  Donnie Englebright, Englebright Farms – Granville County

The project will involve the construction of a greenhouse to grow pepper seedlings to be later transplanted to the field. As the only farmer in his area the currently grows peppers, Donnie knows that commercially grown peppers can result in increased chemical cost and higher crop loss due to unhealthy plants. The greenhouse will allow him to better control seedling growth and health qualities, translating into a more marketable product.

  Mike Evans, Mike Evans Produce – Chowan County

In order to help expand his produce business, Mike will reconstruct the packing shed area and purchase a larger cooler to store fresh produce like sweet corn and cantaloupes. This produce will be delivered directly to Food Lion and Harris Teeter stores in his area.

  Chantel Johnson, Off the Grid in Color – Rowan County

Off Grid in Color’s project will expand the value-added poultry products available to customers for increased meal prep convenience and year-round availability. This will include increasing the variety and quantity of turkey portions such as, halves, quarters, wings, and legs in addition to value-added chicken and turkey, which will include: seasoned wings and legs, ground meat, seasoned ground meat, and ground patties.

  Tracy Leonard, Billy Wood Farm-Wood’s Strawberries – Franklin County

In order to process unsold fruits and vegetables, Tracy will convert the kitchen in an existing farmhouse into a certified kitchen. This certified kitchen will be the first of its kind in the area and will allow Tracy to process fruits and vegetables more efficiently into products like jam and ice cream.

Elke McCalla, Rocky Ridge Farm – Franklin County

In order to produce crops year-round, Rocky Ridge Farm will retrofit their existing passive solar greenhouse with a geo-thermal air system for heating and cooling purposes. They will also install a vertical hydroponic system for lettuce, greens and herbs which will increase their production while conserving space and resources.

Fred Miller, Hilltop Farm of Willow Springs – Wake County

Fred will retrofit an existing high tunnel from a soil based to a hydroponic production system with electricity, running water, and heating & cooling capabilities. The fully heated greenhouse will extend his production to year round while the installation of a cooling wall and ventilation will allow him to grow lettuces in greens in hotter months.

  Chris Morgan, Hopeful Acres Farm – Rowan County

With the increase in small sustainable farms in Rowan and surrounding counties there is a need for small square hay bales, and straw, for feed and bedding for livestock. With the purchase of a stackliner hay wagon, Hopeful Acres will begin selling square hay bales and straw bales to local farms. This self-loading hay wagon will allow Chris to add a new income stream to farm while also supporting the needs of surrounding sustainable farms.

Tonya Nunally, Legacy Acres – Caswell County

The project will support the purchase of a blueberry Easy Harvester and construction of a packing shed. This will allow Tonya to plant twice as many blueberries, harvest her crop more efficiently, and have more space to package the blueberries.

LaTonya Pennix, Mourning Dove Farm – Caswell County

LaTonya’s project will renovate and restore their current roadside stand. This will include the installation of a concrete pad and refurbishment of a walk-in cooler which will allow them to store produce. In addition to the cooler, they will make a lean-to shelter, make minor repairs to the stand, and add roadside signage to boost their marketing.

  Chase Reynolds, Two Pigs Farm – Rowan County

Chase’s project will decrease the high cost of livestock and poultry feed by enhancing a food waste composting system that will produce soldier fly larvae for his free range laying hens. This will include the use of a dump trailer to haul more food waste, a greenhouse installed over the chicken yard, and protapods that can efficiently convert food waste into larvae each day. A new nesting box will also increase the efficiency of his laying chickens while decreasing wash time.

Jeffrey Carroll, Warren County Food Hub (Collaborative Project) – Warren County

The Warren County Farmers Food Hub will be a distribution point for local farmers to sell their produce to the wholesale and retail markets. This will involve the construction of a distribution and storage site. The project will offset the cost of refrigeration and washing station expenditures.

Tri Sa, Transplanting Traditions Community Farm – Orange County

In order to earn more farm income year-round, Tri will install hoophouses to increase production and membership for her winter vegetable CSA. She will install gothic-shaped caterpillar tunnels in order to increase winter production. This style of tunnels is affordable, moveable, and allows easier removal of snow. When Tri reaches her goal of purchasing her own land, she will be able to move this season extension infrastructure with her.

Ben Solomon, Faith Farm Supply – Caswell County

Faith Farm Supply will retrofit a trailer for refrigeration, processing, and storage. This mobile, refrigerated trailer will allow them to process and quickly cool produce in remote harvest locations and provide CSA order storage. Ben will take the trailer to local farmers markets and visit various business parks over lunchtime which will address a previous challenge of selling produce at the beginning of the week.

Grace Summers, Summers Farm (Collaborative Project) – Caswell and Alamance Counties

This collaborative project combines the production of free-range livestock, poultry, vegetables, and industrial hemp with livestock serving as the main source of organic fertilizer. As hemp is a new venture for the farms, a greenhouse will be installed to grow the hemp transplants. They will also fence in some paddock areas of the farm in order to rotate poultry and pigs as the hemp crop will need to rotate with other cover crops.

Ronaba Swain, Swain’s Farm – Bertie County

Ronaba will build a produce washing station, a pole barn to place the washing station under, and a coolbot cooler. This will allow him to process and store his produce using good farming practices with the hopes of becoming GAP certified.

Randall Williams, Fireside Farm, LLC – Orange County

This project will support the design and implementation of a water management plan at Fireside Farm. In an era of climate disruption and intense rain events, the water management plan will be a model for resilience and provide an educational opportunity for the surrounding community.

 

Past Grant Recipients

Click here to view a list of past grant recipients.

Grant Application Period

The 2019 grant application period is now closed. RAFI-USA typically opens the new application period in late fall.  Although subject to change, RAFI-USA grants are usually only available in the North Carolina counties listed below.  If you’re considering applying for a grant, please click here to complete our grant inquiry form, find out about upcoming Outreach Sessions, and submit an application.


2019 Eligible Counties

Alamance, Bertie, Caswell, Chatham, Chowan, Davidson, Davie, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton, Orange, Person, Randolph, Rowan, Vance, Wake, and Warren

Important Dates for Grant Application Period

Outreach Informational Sessions: October – November
Announcement of Applications: November
Early bird deadline: Late November – Early December
Final application deadline : Early January 
Award notification no later than: March 1st

Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply by the Early Bird deadline. Applicants who submit their application by the Early Bird deadline have the opportunity to receive feedback and resubmit their application by the final deadline if they elect to do so.

Useful Links about Previous ARF Projects

Short descriptions of previously-funded RAFI-USA projects


Other Grant Opportunities

RAFI-USA has compiled a list of similar grant opportunities throughout NC funded by the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. Learn about them here.




RAFI-USA’s Agricultural Reinvestment Fund is supported by a grant from the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. We thank the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission for their commitment to North Carolina farmers and to RAFI-USA’s work to support them