The Association had originally set aside $25,000 for the program, but, according to Gunter, “Our staff did such a good job of spreading the word that the number of applications exceeded our expectations.”
The markets awarded the grants will also receive 250 reusable bags with AgSouth’s “Think Outside the Store” logo to give to their customers. Many of the markets plan to use the logo in their advertising, according to Executive Assistant Heather Taylor, who was in charge of the grants. “To be eligible to receive a grant, applicants had to tell us how they would use the money to advertise their markets. We got some really creative ideas – everything from creating a system for online orders to hosting petting zoos to holding a recipe raffle and a watermelon spitting contest.”
Last year the Association awarded grants to 21 Georgia and 25 South Carolina markets in AgSouth’s territory.
Gunter added, “The grant program was designed to bring attention to the small farm market. Many farms get their start selling produce and other farm items at their local farmers markets. Knowing where your food and fiber comes from is important, and we at AgSouth are happy to support these local markets.”
AgSouth Farm Credit is one of the strongest agricultural lending cooperatives in the Southeast. As of December 31, 2013, AgSouth had more than 8,100 members, $1.59 billion in assets and $285 million in capital and allocated accounts.
AgSouth Farm Creditprovides loans for land, equipment and production agriculture;