Media release: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service announces a three-year, $212,000 grant award to the Davies Shelter. The
grant comes just one week after the Davies Shelter was awarded another USDA grant to fund the organization’s farmer training program.
The Davies Shelter was one of 49 organizations awarded funding through the Farmers Market Promotion Program. The grant will provide three years of funding for the shelter’s mobile farmers market program, the Davies Farm Bus, including the development of a line of ready-to-eat products to be sold on the bus.
The Davies Shelter launched the Farm Bus in 2019 to sell excess produce from its farm and community gardens. St. Mary’s Catholic School donated the used 20-passenger school bus which was retrofitted into a mobile market stand by Berry College’s Creative Technologies program. The Farm Bus can be found selling or handing out produce at farmers markets, local nonprofits, and other locations around town at least five days per week from May through September.
“The Farm Bus has been a great tool to increase the visibility of the Davies Shelter in the community while also getting healthy produce into some places that lack access to healthy
foods. This funding will really allow us to take it to the next level, to reach more people, and also provide job training for several shelter guests,” said executive director Devon Smyth.
The grant will fund a number of marketing and community outreach activities for the Davies Farm Bus over the next three years, including an online ordering system, cooking and gardening classes, a food pantry co-op and a new line of ready-to-eat products in conjunction with Elevation House. The grant also includes funding for food safety improvements and up to nine additional part-time positions.
“We’re really excited about the partnerships built into this project. We’ll be partnering with Elevation House to develop new products like pre-made salads that their members will be paid to make. This will also help us solidify relationships with other local farmers and producers in the area,” said project director Bobby Jones.
The project will leverage partnerships with Elevation House, Georgia Organics, the National Farmers Union, Wholesome Wave Georgia, Tucker Farms, Berry College’s Department of Environmental Science and Studies, and Cooper AgServices.
The new grant award comes as the Davies Shelter finishes a two-week-long online fundraiser that brought in nearly $20,000 to help meet the matching fund requirement for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant announced last week. “We set a goal of raising $15,000 online in just 14 days to cover our matching obligation, and
our volunteer fundraisers and donors totally went above and beyond,” says Smyth.