Partnership delivers farm-to-table opportunities

Partnership delivers farm-to-table opportunities
Small business and family farms are the economic engines of rural communities, creating jobs and helping maintain a healthy, diversified local economy.
Markets for locally grown produce also help increase farm income while providing healthy, tasty choices for local residents too.
To help increase farm-to-table opportunities in the region, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Rep. Stephen Fincher joined local leaders Tuesday to announce a federal and state partnership to help fund the new Dresden farmer’s market pavilion. The facility is designed to serve as a market place for up to 75 farmers, as a community event venue, and as an anchor for the new Dresden Green Rail Trail.
The market will be named in honor of Dresden native and former state Agriculture commissioner Terry Oliver.
According to USDA Rural Development state director Bobby Goode and state Department of Agriculture assistant commissioner Larry Maxwell, the two agencies are each providing $35,000 in grant funding for the project. The city is providing the land and additional funding to complete the project, designed to look similar to a traditional railroad depot. The trail project, funded separately, will convert a former railroad bed into a pedestrian and cycling trail connecting the downtown business area with the market and parks.
“I applaud Dresden’s commitment to supporting the farmers of northwest Tennessee, and I am pleased that people from all over will have the opportunity to buy locally grown produce,” Alexander said. “This kind of commerce will benefit the entire region.”
Goode said, “Investments made to improve local markets help bring more people to the downtown business district, lower transportation costs for food and increase the opportunities for families to eat high quality, good tasting locally produced food.”
Others participating in the event included Dresden Mayor Danny Forrester, Dresden Vice Mayor Dr. Gwin Anderson, Weakley County Mayor Houston Patrick, Martin Mayor Randy Brundige, state Rep. Andy Holt, Northwest Tennessee Development District executive director John Bucy, Weakley County Chamber director Barbara Virgin, city aldermen Jake Bynum, Ronnie Gearin and Robb Newbill, former agriculture commissioner Terry Oliver, A2H Project Architect Jay Easter, Dresden ID board chairman Junior Moore, and Rural Development Union City area director Harriet Cannon and staff.
State funding is made through the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program, which is aimed at increasing farm income and expanding Tennessee’s rural economy. Rural Development’s rural business grant programs provide assistance to local governments and non-profit organizations that assist small businesses, develop local business infrastructure, provide job training, conduct feasibility studies or provide technical assistance to businesses and community leaders.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, community development, homeownership and affordable rental housing to improve the economic health of rural communities. During the last four years the agency has assisted at least 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 158 communities, investing more than $3.3 Billion into local economies through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in northwest Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Union City at 731-885-6480 ext. 4, toll free at 800-342-3149 ext. 1497 or visit us online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn. Published in The WCP 10.18.12

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