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Cortland/Ithaca

Local mill lands federal grant

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Local mill lands federal grant
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USDA Rural Development awards nearly two million dollars to New York businesses. Tamara Lindstrom tells us about the Value-Added Producer Grants, and how it could help one local business.

For Greg Mol, turning locally grown organic grains into fresh flour at his Trumansburg mill is a labor of love.

"We've been milling organic grains that are grown here in the Finger Lakes area for about three years," said Mol, co-owner of Farmer Ground Flour. "Our main selling point is that our flour is fresh and the grain is organic. And that's the first thing people notice. People definitely notice the taste."

Marketing consultant and customer Krys Cail agrees.

"It's tremendous. I have a big old crock full of Farmer Ground Flour at home and we bake bread, and it really tastes different," Cail said. "It really smells different when you come into the house. Yes, you can taste fresh in flour, too."

The flour goes directly from farmers to markets across the state. It's a product USDA Rural Development calls "value-added"

"For instance with Red Jacket orchards. If you then take another step and make juice or make cider or even a wine product, that's value-added," said USDA Rural Development state director Jill Harvey.

And that's what won Farmer Ground Flour a $75,000 Value-Added Producer grant.

"It's a wonderful supplement and an encouragement to be a little bit creative with the things you're producing," Harvey said.

Farmer Ground Flour is one of 21 businesses in New York state to receive part of the $1.9 million in funding this year. The program is designed to help get their products straight to the consumer, bringing in more profits and keeping the businesses viable.

"We want to encourage that and help them grow and have local kinds of products available to the communities and this kind of support helps that happen," Harvey said.

"They're giving us the resources to help reach out to people, which normally small business owners like myself might not have time to do a lot of marketing," Mol said. "We've had a decent amount of success so far and hopefully this will allow us to take it to the next level."

And take fresh ground flour to tables statewide.

Another 14 million dollars in Value Added Producer Grants will be available for 2012. For more information, contact your local USDA rural development office.

For more on Farmer Ground Flour, go to www.farmergroundflour.squarespace.com/

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