Vermont Farm Women's Fund Recent Awards
In its February 2011 award cycle, the Vermont Farm Women's Fund (VFWF) awarded six scholarships and stipends to help women farmers improve their businesses, totaling $3.790. A second round will be awarded in late 2011, with a proposal submission date of November 8, 2011.
VFWF is designed to help Vermont women farmers build thriving businesses and/or become more involved in agricultural policy development. A key goal is to provide financial assistance that is not readily available elsewhere.
The award process was extremely competitive, with requests for twice as much money VFWF had available to award in these cycles.
VFWF Responds to Growing Trend
In Vermont and nationally, one of the most significant trends in agriculture has been the increase in female farm operators, both in terms of the absolute number and the percentage of all principal operators, according to the most recent Census of Agriculture.
Between 2002 and 2007, the number of female principal operators in Vermont grew by 50 percent, an increase of about 500 in just five years. Furthermore, about half of the state's roughly 6900 farms reported having at least one woman operator.
The census also shows that women often operate smaller farms and have lower farm earnings than their male counterparts. Many women also start farming as new entrants, and therefore may have different educational needs than people who come from farming backgrounds.
It's because of these trends the increasing role women farmers are playing in our agricultural sector and their particular educational, business and financial needs that the Vermont Farm Women's Fund exists.
Awards as Diverse as Vermont's Farm Women
Proposals to the VFWF reflect the diversity of Vermont farm women and the businesses they operate. Applications came from all quarters of the state, and from all ages and backgrounds. Dairies; conventional and organic;as well as goat and sheep operations were represented in the applications. So, too, were vegetable operations; herb, perennial and annual producers, camelids, and vinyards.
The six proposals selected for funding in early 2011 were:
- Roberta Gillot, of Waterford, operates Crooked Mile. She will use her VFWF award to attend a cheesemaking class at the Vermont Institute for Artisian Cheese at UVM. Her goal is to produce and market cheese as well as provide cheese making classes for agri-tourists and dairy producers at Crooked Mile.
- Kimberly Hagen, of Osprey Hill Farm, will use her VFWF award to expand her knowledge of Pick-Your-Own fruit operations, as well as implement her new skill with Osprey Hill Farm's PYO operation of blueberries, raspberries, currants, and kiwis.
- Lisa McCrory, of Earthwise Farm and Forest in Randolph, operates a diversified, draft-animal powered farm. Her VFWF award will be used to buy tests needed to analyze nutrients in her soil and then conduct research on the correlation between the nutrient level and the productivity of the crops.
- Kathleen Van Gelder, of Cedar Brook Alpacas in Irasburg, will use her VFWF award to attend a series of workshops in Ohio, to expland her knowledge and skills to make and sell profitable alpaca items.
- Jill Kopel, of New Leaf Organics in Bristol, will use her VFWF award to build on her website skills. Recently, New Leaf Organics has been designing and specializing in flower arrangements for special occasions and weddings and she would like her website to reflect this new service as well as reach a broader population.
- Helen Whybrow, of Knoll Hill Farm in Fayston, operates an organic high bush blueberry farm as a Pick-Your-Own operation. Her VFWF award will be used to attend workshops specializing in berry cultivation to assist in expanding the fresh, frozen, berry market at the local level.
A second round of awards is anticiapted for late 2011, and donations to the fund are accepted any time. The fund was established by Vermont author and photographer Peter Miller, who donates a percentage of the sales of his book Vermont Farm Women, to VFWF. For more information, contact the Vermont Farm Women Fund at (802)223-2389 or toll free 1-866-860-1382 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified July 14 2011 01:02 PM