Eleven grants totaling $549,000 were awarded through the Colorado Department of Agriculture's 2016 Specialty Crops Program. Specialty crops include fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture). Funds are received by the Colorado Department of Agriculture from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops.
"These funds are important to a diverse range of Colorado crops, and for the development of markets for specialty crops," said Tom Lipetzky, Colorado Department of Agriculture Markets Division Director. "This block grant helps crops that have historically been grown in Colorado as well as new and emerging crops such as hops that have recently become more widely-planted."
Fiscal year 2016 funds were recently approved by the USDA for the following projects:
1. Rocky Mountain Sod Growers, Mead, CO, $20,000 to educate the public concerning the benefits of sod to the environment and how to conserve water, based on scientific research.
2. Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, Monte Vista, CO, $85,799 to improve soil health in potato production systems.
3. Fort Lewis College, Hesperus, CO, $59,986 to address land access for beginning farmers, create a Farmer in Training program, assist in regional development of farmer incubator programs, and expand markets for specialty crops produced at the Old Fort Market Garden.
4. Colorado Department of Agriculture, Broomfield, CO, $94,409 for development of a Colorado Pavilion at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Expo in 2017.
5. Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Association, Lakewood, CO, $31,000 to educate consumers about the benefits of gardening and planting and to encourage consumers to "Get Out and Plant Something!"
6. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, $57,637 to support small acreage, socially-disadvantaged and beginning specialty crop producers and to fund a specialty crops coordinator.
7. Plant Select, Fort Collins, CO, $40,000 to improve production techniques of certain Plant Select(r) plants to meet market demand.
8. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, $31,000 to evaluate technology efforts to optimize large-scale hydroponic hop production on the Colorado Front Range.
9. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, $46,349 to determine the pungency and nutrient composition of Colorado pepper varieties to increase marketability.
10. Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Strasburg, CO, $72,900 to develop marketing opportunities, labor recruitment and food safety training resources for Colorado's fruit and vegetable growers.
11. Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, Broomfield, CO, $10,000 to host a series of educational and networking seminars for the Colorado wine industry focusing on specific wine styles.
To learn more about the Colorado Specialty Crops Program visit www.colorado.gov/ag/specialtycropgrant or call (303) 869-9173.