Crates of apples await buyers in Pottstown.

HARRISBURG PA – Apple growers across Montgomery County will be among the beneficiaries of a $62,500 federal grant awarded Wednesday (Nov. 4, 2009) to the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Association to help promote and sell the state’s apples, acting Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said.

The grant is part of a larger package of more than $780,000 in federal funding intended to increase the visibility and market share of the Pennsylvania’s produce, nursery, horticultural and nut products, Redding added. The money comes from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which was authorized under the federal Farm Bill.

Among apple producers in the county, according to Pennsylvania State University’s AgMap, are the Joe Way Orchard in Royersford PA; Skippack Creek Farm in Souderton PA; Varner’s Farm, Willow Creek Orchards, and Bauder Farms, all in Collegeville PA; and Ringing Hill Orchard in Pottstown PA.

Others in the region include Vollmecke Orchards in Coatesville PA; Highland Orchards Inc. in West Chester PA; Frecon Orchard, Keim Orchard, Unger Fruit Farm Inc., Beekman Orchards Inc., and Shanesville Fruit Farm, all in Boyertown PA; Firstfruits Orchard in Douglassville PA; and Weaver’s Orchard in Morgantown PA.

Fourteen other projects also will be funded by the block grant. They include money for the:

  • American Mushroom Association, $70,000 to enhance and expand the Mushroom Food Safety Initiative;
  • Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association, $74,200 to create an online stock guide and, in a separate project, develop the Roadside Green Infrastructure program;
  • Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing & Research Program, $41,000 to develop and enhance the program’s Web site and point of purchase supplies;
  • Pennsylvania Wine Association, $33,000 to expand the quality and reach of Pennsylvania wines;
  • Welch’s/National Grape Cooperative: $62,000 to implement a sustainable viticulture program; and
  • several grants to Penn State for agriculture-related research.

“Pennsylvania farmers provide consumers with an abundant, affordable supply of nutritious fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops,” Redding said. “The grants will support local agriculture, increase the competitiveness of small producers, and expand direct marketing opportunities available to specialty crop producers, strengthening our agriculture industry.”

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