Grant awarded to help local strawberry farmers

Published 9:50 am Wednesday, November 28, 2012



Jordan Hatfield and her daughter, Neva, pick strawberries at Goose Hill Farm outside Franklin this past spring. -- FILE

FRANKLIN—To help the 80 strawberry growers in Virginia maximize their potential, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services awarded a $26,000 grant locally.

Working with the state’s strawberry industry is Gail Milteer, the sales and market development specialist for VDACS in Franklin.

“With the grant we will be able to provide strawberry farmers with current weather updates twice a day for the exact location of their strawberry fields and provide daily information on growing issues,” Milteer said.

Further, the money will help pay for a winter strawberry school and two pre-plant meetings in 2013.

“By providing growers with these tools, it allows the grower to enhance their managerial skills and become more competitive in the market place,” said Milteer. “Strawberries are one of the most expensive crops to grow so careful attention to production techniques is very important.”

VDACS awarded nearly $500,000 to 22 recipients to promote specialty crops including pumpkins, honeybees and wine grapes.

Milteer hopes to promote Amp Cobb of Goose Hill Farm in Franklin. He grows 1-1/3 acres of strawberries.

Milteer said growers will not get money directly, but most could qualify to participate in the meetings, school and updates.