Perspectives Online

N.C. MarketReady announces award recipients for N.C. Value-Added Cost Share Program

Richard Parker (left) Cost Share recipient, and Brittany Whitmire, NCVACS program coordinator, look over the technology in place at the milking parlor of Parkerís organic dairy.

Courtesy Megan Bame

Nine value-added producers in North Carolina just received a financial boost as recipients of the N.C. Value-Added Cost Share (NCVACS) award. The NCVACS program, administered by N.C. MarketReady, has announced the 2009 cost share awards, which are funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. The NCVACS program provides financial support, through matching funds, to producers who are applying for the USDA Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG), a nationally competitive program.

Organic producer Mary Roberts (right) and Brittany Whitmire of NCVACS discuss Robertsí grafted heirloom tomatoes.
“The nine recipients represent a diverse array of value-added enterprises and are geographically scattered throughout the state,” said Brittany Whitmire, NCVACS program coordinator. The award recipients fell into three categories of cost share funding for grant writing and feasibility assessment.

Lee Swinson, a peanut farmer who operates Golden Grove Candy Company in Warsaw produces the Carolina Crisp Peanut Bar and other peanut candies. He received $3,500 in cost share funds to assist with grant writing to help his VAPG proposal be more competitive.

Four other recipients will receive grant-writing assistance ($3,500) and, upon receipt of a VAPG, matching funds of $10,000 to fulfill a matching funds requirement from the USDA. The following are recipients of this cost share funding:

  • Smoky Mountain Native Plants Association, located in western North Carolina, is a producer group that grows and harvests ramp, wild mountain leeks that grow at high elevations in the Appalachian Mountains. The ramp is processed for seasoning packets and rampmeal.
  • Ossie and Mary Betty Kearney, along with their son, Andrew, own and operate Nooherooka Natural in Snow Hill. The Kearneys direct market all-natural Black Angus beef products to wholesale and retail outlets in eastern and central North Carolina.
  • Jon Dorman and Della Williams, dairy goat farmers located in Pelham, produce a variety of artisan cheeses which they direct market as Sleepy Goat Cheese in north central North Carolina and south central Virginia.
  • Jack and Grace Bishop are the owners of Vineyards on the Scuppernong, a new vineyard and winery in Columbia, where they produce grapes for table wine and operate a retail shop near the vineyard.        

Four other producers received NCVACS cost share funding for grant writing to help them be more competitive in seeking working capital from the USDA VAPG program. They also were awarded cost share funds for a feasibility assessment. The value of these awards ranged from $18,000 to $23,500:

  • Mary Roberts, Windcrest Farm in Monroe, is a certified organic producer who grafts heirloom tomato scion to disease-resistant rootstock, selling heirloom tomato transplants.
  • Richard Parker, located in Mt. Ulla, owns an organic dairy (cows) and partners with Chuck Moore, who operates a dairy goat farm, to produce Back Creek Cheese, a line of artisan and specialty cheeses.
  • Wilson and Debbie Daughtry farm one of four vegetable operations that make up Alligator River Growers. They produce and market ready-to-cook bagged snapbeans to wholesale and retail markets along the east coast.
  • Henry and Tracy Moore’s Bobcat Farms, in Clinton, is a diversified beef and swine operation that direct markets beef to retail consumers in central North Carolina.

In the coming months, these producers will work with professional grant writers and feasibility consultants to prepare applications to the USDA VAPG program. North Carolina producers have been awarded 13 VAPGs since the program’s inception in 2001. “One of the goals of NCVACS is to increase North Carolina's success in the federal VAPG program by increasing the amount of federal funding that our value-added producers receive,” said Whitmire. “As one of the most diverse agricultural states in the country and with a population of highly entrepreneurial, hard working and creative farmers, North Carolina is in an excellent position to secure more federal VAPG dollars.”

A value-added agricultural product is a raw, agricultural commodity that has been changed in some manner so that it no longer can be returned to its original state. This change results in increased market value, allowing the producer to receive a higher price for these value-added products compared to the original commodity. Chopped lettuce, fruit jams and stone-ground corn meal are a few examples. “The NCVACS guidelines also include non-standard production methods (such as organic), physical product segregation (gluten-free grains separate from gluten-based grains), generating farm-based renewable energy and some locally produced food products,” said Whitmire. -- Megan Bame

Applications for the next round of cost share funding for grant writing and feasibility assessments will be available March 15, 2010. The application period for the NCVACS Equipment cost share purpose is open now through March 30, 2010. For more information about NCVACS, including guidelines, applications and lists of frequently asked questions, visit, or contact Brittany Whitmire, program coordinator, at 919-830-9557 or

N.C. MarketReady, formerly known as the Program for Value-Added & Alternative Agriculture, is a program of N.C. Cooperative Extension, which is an educational outreach of N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University.  N.C. MarketReady’s multidisciplinary team builds partnerships and educational resources to help North Carolina agriculture be more profitable. N.C. MarketReady is a partner of the Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis. Learn more at or