PITTSBURG, Kan. — Seven Crawford County agriculture-based businesses will be receiving grants from the state, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Wednesday.
The seven Crawford County businesses are just a fraction of the agricultural organizations across the state that will be receiving a grant as a part of Gov. Kelly’s initiative to “strengthen the state’s food supply system”.
“The pandemic has served to remind the country how critical it is that we protect our food supply system,”’ Kelly said in a press release Wednesday. ‘“As they always have, Kansas agriculture and food businesses have stepped up to the challenge. Our agriculture workers have kept food in the stores and on the tables for Kansans and Americans across the nation.”
Across Kansas, nine million dollars will be doled out to 183 organizations and Crawford County will receive over $330,000 of it. The seven area organizations that will be receiving a grant are Burke Family Gardens in Walnut, Robert Dutton in Arcadia, McCune Farm to Market and Schenker Family Farms in McCune, The Meat Shed in Frontenac and Wesley House and Gene's Processing in Pittsburg.
“Between the hundreds of jobs they’ve created and the economic stimulus they provide to Kansas communities, these grantees are essential to our state’s economy,” Secretary of Commerce David Toland said in the press release. “Financial blows dealt by the pandemic have been felt everywhere in our state, and these dollars are designed to both aid in our state’s economic recovery and to build a more resilient food system for the future.”
The grants can be used to for a wide range of projects, according to the press release, including but not limited to: “rental of buildings/facilities to expand capacity, facility reconfiguration to meet social distancing guidelines, technology that improves business resilience, costs associated with sanitation or worker safety, costs associated with increased inspections, and many more.”
Jamie Burke, owner of Burke Family Gardens, is very excited for the future, and she and her husband, Austin Burke, have big plans for the grant money.
“We plan to purchase a tractor, and the empty lots next to our garden currently, which will more than double our gardening space. We are updating the chicken coop to provide eggs fresh and locally for our community,” Burke said. “I'm working on increasing beds for more strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, and glass gem corn. And more cut flowers. Possibly more blackberries. I couldn't grow enough of those things this year.”
Burke Family Gardens, located in Walnut, has been open since April of 2016. Burke said their focus is on growing healthy, organic food.
“We grow our food organically, and I search for the best tasting varieties as my ultimate goal,” she said. “Things you can't find at our grocery stores.”
The Meat Shed in Frontenac is also a recipient of a grant from the state, and owner Matt DeMoss is very grateful.
“I will be using this generous gift to expand The Meat Shed’s cold storage capacity and ability to better serve our customers, the local agricultural community, and the heritage of our Southeast Kansas food traditions,” he said.
The Meat Shed is a butcher store that focuses on making premium items including a “variety of sausages, bacon, charcuterie, fresh Heritage breed pork cuts, pickles, condiments and other seasonal items” in the Little Balkan tradition.
The Meat Shed and Burke Family Gardens are only a fraction of the companies that will benefit from these grants. Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Mike Bean said in the press release that grants like these are critical to local businesses.
“These grants will allow local food and agriculture businesses to expand their capability to respond to the food supply needs in their communities,” he said.