Jan. 29, 2015. Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA) announces the recipients for the 2015 Mary Boyer Sustainable Food and Agriculture Grant program. For five years, the Sustainable Food and Agriculture Grant has strengthened our local food system by supporting female farmers, ranchers, and processors who plan to create innovative, sustainable solutions to production or marketing obstacles in the High Country. This year, two awards of up to $2000 have been presented to Susan Owen and Cynthia Sharpe.
Susan Owen, owner and operator of Lily Patch Farm in Vilas, NC will use her award to plant a Pawpaw orchard. The Pawpaw is a native tree that produces a fruit of the same name and is gaining popularity. The Pawpaw fruit is sweet and tastes like a combination of banana, mango, and pineapple. Lily Patch Farm aims to increase production each year and sell saplings to other growers in the area. Susan Owen is also the Garden Manager at the FARM Café Garden Spot in Valle Crucis and is the 2014 Watauga County Woman in Agriculture.
Cynthia Sharpe owns and operates Oakmoon Farm, a goat dairy in Bakersville, NC. The farm has an on-farm store, offers workshops, and has been featured in Our State Magazine. She plans to use her award to diversify and seek new solutions for her farm. Cynthia Sharpe plans to research the goat dairy tradition in Europe, re-design packaging and labels, explore new markets, and introduce new products to the farm. Cynthia plans to add egg-laying chickens, pastured pork, and a dairy cow to her farm to expand product offerings in the on-farm store.
“The Mary Boyer Sustainable Agriculture and Food Grants memorialize an extraordinary woman and I believe Mary would be pleased to have her name associated with these grants because they serve a genuine-need population in this area.” Remarks board member Amy Galloway, “These grants are small, but they have the potential to produce a meaningful change in the professional lives of the recipients and to allow them to scale up their practices in modest increments.”
The 2016 Mary Boyer Sustainable Food and Agriculture Grant will be released in late 2015. More information about the Mary Boyer Sustainable Food and Agriculture grant and BRWIA’s programs can be found on BRWIA’s website (www.brwia.org).