Working Lands Enterprise Board announces over $600,000 in grants to Vermont Entrepreneurs and Technical Assistance Providers

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Working Lands Enterprise Board announces over $600,000 in grants to Vermont Entrepreneurs and Technical Assistance Providers

Tue, 05/17/2016 - 4:22pm -- katie

Vermont Business Magazine - The Working Lands Enterprise Board announced its fourth year of grants, totaling $634,000 in investments that impact every county in Vermont. The 44 grantees (including 24 trade show assistance grants) will leverage an additional $2.5 million in matching funds to create jobs, increase income, and keep working lands acreage in production. Grant recipients were announced at a ceremony and networking event held at Vermont Tree Goods in Bristol earlier this morning. 

“Investments in our agriculture and forest economies make Vermont a great place to live, work, and visit,” said Governor Peter Shumlin, who was onsite for the event. “Over the past four years, the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative has demonstrated impact in businesses across the state.  The public-private partnerships embraced by the program this year are the first of their kind, and an indication of its future sustainability.”

“This is an extremely competitive process; this year the board received $3.3 million in requests for $600,000 of available funding,” said Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross.  “The 20 businesses and organizations featured here today are exemplary in their diversity, innovation, impacts, and growth.   Investments like these are vital to preserving what makes Vermont, Vermont.”

“Vermont's forest economy is an integral part of Vermont’s working lands economy, both now and in the future,” said Commissioner Michael Snyder. “This year’s WLEB investments represent a commitment to Vermont’s forest and wood products sector and particularly the exciting future for modern wood heat.  Eighty cents of every dollar spent on fossil fuels for heating in Vermont leaves the state, whereas when we buy Vermont pellets for heating, 80 cents on every dollar stays in the state. Those numbers are huge for our economy and the environment.”

Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Community Development, Lucy Leriche said, “The working landscape is the backbone of some of our most important sectors in Vermont: agriculture, forestry, and tourism.  Investing in these strategic projects is an investment in what we as Vermonters value most and what visitors to our state love to experience.”

Again this year, $30,000 of Local Food Market Development (LFMD) grant funds were made available through the Working Lands grant process. The focus of LFMD funding is to increase Vermont producers’ access to institutional and wholesale markets, promote consumption of local food, and encourage scaling up through new market development opportunities across the state.

Additionally, the Board received generous contributions from Charles and Leigh Merinoff, the Progressive Farm Alliance, and Long Trail Brewing. These funds will enhance the economies, culture, and communities across Vermont’s working landscape.

Vermont Tree Goods Sawmill in Bristol. Courtesy photo.


Vermont Tree Goods is an early stage business in Bristol manufacturing specialty and natural “live edge” lumber and furniture. Vermont Tree Goods uses reclaimed heirloom trees, exclusively from Vermont. Vermont has a tremendous variety of beautiful hardwood species, each with a wide range of unique and beautiful characteristics. Vermont Tree Goods received $20,000 in working lands funds in 2015, for the purchase of equipment for their new facility, including new saws, kilns, and material handling systems. Vermont Tree Goods is also a participant in Vermont Housing & Conservation Board’s Forest Viability Program which received $75,000 this year to continue this invaluable technical assistance to Vermont’s forestry and forest product sector businesses.


·         Since its inception in 2012, The Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) has invested over $3.1 million dollars in 112 projects impacting every county of the state, leveraging just under $5 million in additional funds. Impacts to date include:106 new jobs created by working lands grantees

·         A 12 million+ increase in gross income across all working lands grantees

The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative 2015 Annual Report can be found here:


The Working Lands Video can be found here:

For more information about grant recipients, visit:

The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, (Act 142), is administered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.  The Working Lands funds are administered by the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB), an impact investment organization whose mission is to grow the economies, cultures, and communities of Vermont’s working landscape by making essential, catalytic investments in critical leverage points of the Vermont farm and forest economy, from individual enterprises to industry sectors. For more information, visit


I. Business Investment Grant Recipients

Business Investments are one of two focus areas of the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, with grants ranging from $5,000 - $50,000 for new and growing agriculture, forestry, and forest products enterprises. The Business Investment area received 92 applications with a total request of $2.4 million in funds. Twelve businesses were awarded over $334,000, and leveraged over $1.7 million in matching funds with a median match of $30,000 per business.


8 Agriculture Grant Recipients

Caledonia County

·         Lynd Farm, So. Walden : $16,250 for developing their sow farrowing business.

·         Molly Brook Farm, West Danville : $20,000 for an organic transition.

Chittenden County

·         Burnt Rock Farm, Huntington : $20,000 for a storage barn expansion to capture growth in existing wholesale vegetable markets.

Orange County

·         Root 5 Farm, Fairlee : $20,000 for an on-farm processing kitchen, pack house and crop storage renovations.

Orleans County

·         Tangletown Farm, West Glover : $15,000 for increasing and improving infrastructure for pastured laying hens and egg production.

Washington County

·         Vermont Bean Crafters, Warren: $50,000 for growing the Northeastern staple-foodshed with dry beans.

·         Wicked Bines/Whitefield Hop Yard, Berlin : $30,000 for a hops harvester and storage.

Windsor County

·         Calderwood Goat Dairy, Royalton : $13,000 to begin goat dairy.


4 Forestry Grant Recipients

Chittenden County

·         The Tree House Hardwoods & Millshop, South Burlington : $29,975.33 for infrastructure to increase safety and efficiency.

Essex County

·         Kingdom Pellets, East Burke : $50,000 for construction of 30,000 ton super-premium softwood pellet mill.

Rutland County

·         Southwind Forestry, Pawlet : $20,000 for an excavator for sustainable forest products.

Windsor County

·         Renewable Fuels of Vermont, West Windsor : $50,000 for a wood pellet mil finish dryer.


II. Service Provider Grant Recipients

Service Provider grants were available this year to technical assistance providers across the state ranging from $20,000 - $75,000.  The board received 23 letters of intent with $923,000 in total requested funds.  Eight service provider grants were awarded to four agriculture, and four forestry related projects, totaling $274,720.  The service provider grantees leveraged an additional $700,000 in matching funds, with a median match of $41,384 per service provider.


4 Agriculture Grant Recipients

Statewide Impact

·         Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont : $27,222 for strengthening and growing the Vermont organic dairy industry.

·         Intervale Center : $19,940 to improve farmland access services for Vermont farmers.

Rutland County Impact

·         Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, Inc : $17,558 for increasing farm success through operational efficiency improvements.

Windham County Impact

·         Strolling of the Heifers : $40,000 for the Windham Grows Business Hatchery.


4 Forestry Grant Recipients

Statewide Impact

·         Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association : $50,000 for innovation assistance to wood manufacturers.

·         Vermont Housing & Conservation Board : $75,000 for advancing the forestry sector through entrepreneurialism and innovation.

·         Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund : $20,000 : Forest products value chain investment strategy.

·         Renewable Energy Vermont : $25,000 for a roadmap to achieve 35% of Vermont’s thermal heating needs by 2030 through the expanded use of advanced wood heat.


III. FY 2016 Trade Show Assistance Grant Recipients

Included in this year’s funding was a $25,000 allotment to refund the Tradeshow Assistance Grant program administered by the Domestic Export program at the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.  The small grants are given to Vermont producers looking to promote their product out of the state. Last year’s 24 grantees reported 950 sales leads and 82 immediate sales valued at over $30,000.


This year’s Tradeshow Assistance Grant Recipients are:

·         Bee’s Wrap: $2,000 to attend the NY NOW Gift Show in New York, NY

·         Benito’s Hot Sauce: $750 to attend the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, MD

·         Burke Mtn. Confectionery: $1000 to attend the Boston Gift Show in Boston, MA

·         Cloudfarm: $2,000 to attend to the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, NV

·         Consider Bardwell: $500 to attend the Good Food Mercantile in Chicago, IL

·         Drink Maple: $1,000 to attend the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, CA

·         Fat Toad Farm: $800 to attend the Good Food Mercantile in New York, NY

·         Green Mountain Organic Creamery: $1,000 to attend the Summer Fancy Show in New York, NY

·         Gringo Jack’s: $1,000 to attend the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, CA

·         Hidden Springs Maple: $750 to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY

·         Parish Hill Creamer: $500 to attend the Good Food Mercantile in Chicago, IL

·         Rockledge Farm Woodworks: $1,500 to attend the American Craft Retailers Expo in Philadelphia, PA

·         Sap!: $750 to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY

·         Sugar Bob’s: $1,000 to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY

·         Shacksbury Cider: $750 to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY

·         Sidehill Fruit Farm: $750 to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY

·         Small Batch Organics: $1,000 to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY

·         Stonecutter Spirits: $600 to attend WhiskyFest in New York, NY

·         Sweet Crunch Bake Shop: $750 to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY

·         Tavernier Chocolates: $400 to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY

·         Twig Farm: $500 to attend the Good Food Mercantile in Chicago, IL

·         Untapped: $1,500 to attend the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, UT

·         Vermont Farmstead cheese: $1,000 to attend the Haddon House Specialty Foods Show in Orlando, FL

·         Vermont Sweetwater Bottling: $1,000 to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY

·         Vermont Switchel Co.: $1,000 to attend the New England Made Show

·         Wood’s Vermont Syrup: $800 to attend the Good Food Mercantile in New York, NY


For more information about the WLEI, please visit:

For more information about the VAAFM’s Domestic Export Program, please visit:


About the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets: VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment. Visit