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Local Bounty Coshocton receives $100,000 USDA Grant

| October 6, 2015

COSHOCTON – Local Bounty Coshocton was awarded a $100,000 USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant that will enable Coshocton County’s only year-round farmers market to expand operations.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding for USDA programs on Oct. 2, that included the Local Bounty Coshocton grant.

“USDA is helping to create economic opportunities for producers, increase access to fresh, healthy food for consumers, and connect rural and urban communities across the country,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Each of the grants announced today targets a unique part of the growing market for local foods.”

The USDA awarded a total of 164 Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grants nationally that are intended to boost affordable access to local, fresh and healthy foods, create opportunities for small and mid-size producers, and benefit the health of all Americans regardless of income levels.

Kristi Adelsberger, president of the Local Bounty Coshocton Board of Directors, reflected on the rising trend of local foods.

“Americans are becoming increasingly aware of healthy food choices,” he said. “Local Bounty has been at the forefront of the local foods movement connecting local producers and consumers at a single retail site and providing education courses for children and adults that enhance awareness of better nutrition through local foods.”

The grant initiative was led by David Baker, president of The Eddington Venture Group, who develops growth strategies for nonprofit and commercial enterprises.

“The USDA grant provides Local Bounty essential bridge financing that will help stabilize and expand operations. The immediate impacts of USDA funding include increased participation by local producers, wider product selection, expanded hours of operation, and heightened market visibility. Producer participation is expected to double from 30 to 60 which will attract additional customers and maximize local economic impact.”

Kristie Henderson, Local Bounty Manager, looks forward to expanding collaboration with producers and consumers.

“Local Bounty has a stable base of local clientele from young families to experienced chefs,” she said. “Expanding product selection and increasing store operations from three to six days a week will drive product supply, customer access, and sales for our participating producers. Funding will also enable us to update our Internet presence to better reach our clients and suppliers. Operating fewer hours per week limited consumer access to the local food supply. Weekly staples such as fresh milk and eggs were quickly sold out but could not be stocked in greater quantity due to our limited days of operation. Extended hours and product offerings will drive more weekly visits by our customers.”

The grant will enable Local Bounty to employ personnel to operate the store rather than producers who currently volunteer as store clerks.

“Volunteers will remain important to the life of Local Bounty but will not be solely responsible for store operation” Adelsberger continued. “Since inception, Local Bounty was staffed by producers. This requirement was a limiting factor for many small producers who had family and work obligations in addition to farming and product development. Large scale producers of natural foods in the region were also unable to participate due to time, costs, and margins.”

Local Bounty provides essential market access for local producers and a reliable source of local foods for the community.

“Market access is essential for smaller producers,” said Marissa Mullett of Keene Creek Farm which sells locally raised pork at Local Bounty. “Small, specialty producers lack the time and resources to reach a broad market. Local Bounty provides critical market access for many local producers. Expanded store hours and participation by other producers will significantly impact growth of our operation.”

According to Robin Mullet, Local Bounty secretary and co-owner of honey vendor Mullet Apiaries, the USDA grant will expand education for consumers and producers.

“Public education was a founding principle of Local Bounty,” she said. “Classes for adults and children have included healthy local food choices, food preparation, canning, and shared production techniques. Ideally our expanded course offerings will attract and retain more local producers while increasing public interest in local foods.”

“Community collaboration was essential to securing the USDA grant” Baker continued. “Local Bounty Coshocton competed nationally including major metropolitan local food initiatives from New York to Los Angeles. In addition to a strong proposal, Local Bounty received over 40 letters of support from producers, clients, and elected officials which far exceeded USDA expectations.”

According to Baker letters of support included United States Senator Rob Portman, Congressman Bob Gibbs, Ohio Senator Jay Hottinger, Ohio State Representative Bill Hayes, City of Coshocton Mayor Steve Mercer, and Coshocton County Commissioners Dane Shryock, Gary Fisher, and Curtis Lee. Various organizations also provided support including Coshocton County Chamber of Commerce, Coshocton Port Authority, OMEGA, COTC, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and Ohio State University Extension.

“Announcement of the USDA grant coincides with Local Bounty’s fourth anniversary of operation,” said Marissa Mullett. “What a great way to start our fifth year of operation”.

Local Bounty Coshocton is located at the Lake Park complex at 22951 SR83 Coshocton, Ohio 43812.  For information, call 740-622-1400 or e-mail [email protected]

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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