Local farmers receive “Next Step” grants from Bread Riot

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, June 20, 2023

SALISBURY — The local non-profit organization Bread Riot awarded three grants to local farmers on Saturday totaling $10,000 that will help each of the recipients move forward.

Called “Next Step” grants, the money is intended to help small local farms move to the next step in their growth.

The mission of Bread Riot, which is based here in Salisbury, is “to link farms to tables by supporting our small farmers and providing access to locally produced foods throughout the community,” according to their website.”We provide locally grown foods to all people, including those who might not have access; we provide support to local farmers to expand their production and reach; and we provide educational opportunities to enhance understanding of local food options.”

The three recipients of the grant monies are David Correll of Correll Farms, Jessica Long of Church Creek Farm, and Randy Elium of Elium Farm. Each has a plan for how the funds will be used.

Correll Farms will be upgrading to stainless steel tables and large lugs to transport produce as part of the farm’s ongoing “old fashioned delivery service,” in its 10th year now. Church Creek Farm owner Long, who grows flowers, will build a greenhouse to extend her season. And Elium Farm is adding a freeze dryer to dry berries along with caterpillar tunnels which are smaller greenhouses. For Correll Farms, it will strengthen distribution, and for Church Creek and Elium, the additions will extend their seasons by several months.

“We need to have a certified commercial kitchen for the freeze dried berries, but we’re working on that,” said Randy Elium, who owns the farm with his wife, Pam. “But this grant is a tremendous benefit, and will extend our season beyond the normal edges. And the freeze dried berries, when you rehydrate them, are every bit as flavorful as when they are in season.”

“The goal of these Next Step grants is to help keep our farmers in business,” said Dottie Hoy, president of Bread Riot. “It is intended to help them move to the next level. Supporting our local farmers is essential to what we do.”

“I was able to combine two grants, this one and another, to plan for and begin construction on a green house,” said Long, who started her work life as a nurse but eventually realized growing flowers was her joy.

“The first year I grew flowers, I brought some to a patient, who told me they made her smile,” said Long. “She said ‘in fact, they’re like smiles on stems.’ I told her one day that would be my slogan, and it is. That’s what I offer, smiles on stems.” But she has, like most gardeners and farmers, been constrained by weather, her growing season essentially bordered by last and first frost.

“Having the greenhouse will extend my season by a few months,” she said. “And I have now been able to hire my first employee and this means I can keep her longer.”

All the farmers agree that education is essential for children, who will be the farmers of tomorrow.

“Teaching them the seed to soil contact, how the growing works from beginning to end or harvest, letting them get their hands in the dirt is so important,” said Elium.

For the Correll family and the Eliums, hosting school field trips and working with FFA students is part of their business plan, and the Corrells are committed enough to conservation that they are in the process of placing the farm land under a conservation easement, preserving the land in perpetuity.

Products from all three are available Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market on Kerr Street.