LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Walton Family Foundation announced a partnership Wednesday to offer the Arkansas Grown Grant pilot program for farmers residing and farming in various Northwest Arkansas counties.

According to a press release, the pre-pilot program offers grant funding to eligible farmers in Benton, Washington, Madison, and Carroll counties who are committed to increasing capacity for wholesale fruit and vegetable production, resulting in more local food.

The release says grants up to a maximum of $15,000 will be awarded for eligible expenses to at least 30 farmers in the four-county pilot program area with free assistance in completing the application is offered through the Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center in Fayetteville (ASBTDC).

The application and link to ASBTDC is available online at arkansasgrown.org/grant-pilot-program/.

“The Walton Family Foundation’s generosity is well known throughout Arkansas and the nation,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is honored to assist in the administration of this grant program and looks forward to seeing the positive impacts it will have on farmers, consumers, and local food production in Northwest Arkansas.”

Funds will be awarded to approved applicants on an equitable basis until funds are no longer available. A committee will review applications based on the following criteria:

1. Dedication to growing local food for sale to wholesale and commercial buyers

2. Demonstrated interest in increasing capacity to sell to wholesale buyers and distributors

3. The ability to provide performance metrics on reports

4. Demonstrated need

5. Sustainability.

For more information about the pilot program, contact Karen Reynolds at karen.reynolds@agriculture.arkansas.gov or (501) 529-1630.