How Loudoun's farms and markets are reacting to the coronavirus crisis

The Leesburg Farmer's Market occupies space at Virginia Village every Saturday morning.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced on Aug. 28 that Loudoun and Floyd counties will each receive a $20,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund Planning Grant program to support local agriculture amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to Northam’s administration.

Northam says both projects fill an immediate need for farmers in the communities who are struggling after the loss of sales to restaurants and at farmers’ markets. The grants will be matched by more than $80,000 in additional funds coming from the applicant communities and their nonprofit partners.

Loudoun will launch a new e-commerce platform, “Loudoun Made, Loudoun Grown Marketplace,” to better connect farmers with the region’s consumers and provide support through advertising, technical assistance and establishing drop-off locations, according to state officials.

“Our administration is committed to using every tool at our disposal to support Virginia’s agricultural and forestry industries during these uncertain and challenging times,” Northam said in a prepared statement. “I commend the efforts of Floyd and Loudoun counties to partner with stakeholders in their communities and help local farmers adapt to the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In June, Gov. Northam announced newly revised guidelines to better equip the AFID Fund Planning Grant program to function as a resource for local governments seeking to assist their agricultural communities during the COVID-19 emergency, officials said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed opportunities for improvement in our food supply chains and highlighted the significance of having local options for fresh products,” Bettina Ring, secretary of agriculture and forestry, said in a prepared statement.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which administers the AFID Planning Grant program, is accepting applications on a rolling basis, according to state officials. Successful applications will demonstrate a clear need, a proposed solution, strong support from local government and the agriculture and forestry community and the ability to provide matching funds.

Additional information about the AFID Planning Grant program is at vdacs.virginia.gov/agriculture-afid-planning-grants.shtml.

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