Mini grant program promotes Georgia grown produce - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Mini grant program promotes Georgia grown produce

A mini grant program hopes to promote locally grown food in Georgia. A mini grant program hopes to promote locally grown food in Georgia.
Southern Fresh Market Southern Fresh Market
Duane Watson Duane Watson
Kevin Rentz Kevin Rentz
BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) -

Georgia farmers say more people are caring about where their food comes from. 

One south Georgia business is offering grants to farmers to promote their produce. 

Kevin Rentz used a $500 mini grant from Southwest Georgia Farm Credit to start his own farmer's market. 

He now owns the Southern Fresh Market in Bainbridge.

He's encouraging more farmers to apply to keep food and money local. 

"You go to the grocery store and it's been sitting on the shelf for a week, and it's been a cooler before that for probably a week," said Rentz.  "And right here, it's mainly picked right off the farm and brought in here daily." 

According to the USDA consumers purchased about $1 billion of local food in 2005. By 2012, that number hit $7 billion.

"Everybody is more health conscious today and they're wanting the freshest possible," Rentz said.  "And it makes a big difference in taste."

So after years of farming, Rentz and his wife decided to go one step further to get their produce out in the community.

After reading about a mini grant program in the Farm Credit magazine, they decided to apply. 

"Row cropping is not quite as profitable as it has been in the last few years and farmers are looking for other things to bring in money to their farms," said Duane Watson, Relationship Manager for Southwest Georgia Farm Credit. 

The purpose of the "Fresh from the Farm" mini grant program is to provide cash for marketing and promotions to road side u-picks and farmers' markets started by local farmers. 

"It's beneficial," said Rentz. "It's money that you can take for advertisement and construction.  It's used for whatever you need to get your business established."

And that's exactly what it has done for Rentz.  

He sells locally made products and produce at Southern Fresh Market and looks forward to continuing to show off what Georgia has to offer. 

Each year, 10 qualifying producers win the $500. 

To learn how you can apply for this grant, go to SWGAFarmCredit.com.

The application deadline is April 15. 

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