Special to the Citizen

AgSouth Farm Credit CFO Lisa Gunter announced today that the cooperative has set aside $25,000 to help community-based farmers markets promote their markets during 2014. The grant is part of AgSouth’s AGAware® program. Implemented in 2013, AGAware is an advocacy program that educates the public and promotes agriculture throughout the Association’s territory. Earlier this year the program received a national award for community service from the Farm Credit Council. Last year the Association awarded $500 grants to to 21 Georgia and 25 South Carolina markets in AgSouth’s territory. Those who received the money also received 250 reusable bags to give to their customers. The bags, a continuing part of the promotion, are imprinted with a “Think Outside the Store” logo.

According to CFO Lisa Gunter, “Our ‘Think Outside the Store’ campaign is AgSouth’s way of actively promoting our community markets. By awarding funds to promote these markets, we hope to increase awareness of how choosing to purchase locally-produced foods and goods benefits our community’s health and economy.” She continues, “As part of the Farm Credit System, AgSouth Farm Credit has been providing support to farmers and rural America for nearly a century, and we’re proud to add our Think Outside the Store Community Grant Program to a long list of ways we continue to support agriculture.”To be eligible for the grant, the markets must be in AgSouth’s territory, be open for at least a two-month period, and have an average of at least five participating vendors. The grant money must be used to advertise or otherwise promote the market. To find out if your market is eligible for this grant, or to obtain a grant application, please contact Heather Taylor at 864-585-6234 extension 6726 or email her at HTaylor@AgSouthFC.com.