The $100,000 grant, which is funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, is available for individual farms or a group of agritourism farms to assist with offsetting the cost of marketing efforts.
This is the second time the department has offered a cost-share grant for agritourism farms. The last one supported 29 farms with projects ranging from marketing brochures and website development to branding and signage.
English Farmstead Cheese, located an hour outside of Asheville in Marion, received grant funding in 2016 for signage to promote its farm and farm store. Like many of the state’s 1,000 agritourism farms, English Farmstead Cheese is located in a rural area. Its bucolic location is a draw for tourist, but can be a challenge to find.
“Our main goal was to increase visibility to our store – both from a marketing and also a safety stand point. By utilizing cost share funds, we were able to update our road side sign to increase our visibility from the highway,” said Rachel Brown of English Farmstead Cheese.
The new sign, which was installed in October 2016, replaced a handwritten sign the farm had previously used. The impact was significant. In the three months following the new sign’s installation, the farm reported a 10-percent increase in visitors compared to the same time the previous year.
The 2018 grant is twice as large as the previous grant. The department hopes the additional funds will allow it to be able to fund even more projects across the state.
Funding is available for marketing materials and tools that can include but are not limited to: e-newsletter subscriptions, graphic design, production and printing of custom brochures, value-added product labels, professional directional on- and off-farm signage, and website development. Proposals should demonstrate how the materials will be used in conjunction with a marketing strategy that will result in more farm visitors or increased revenue.
As part of the cost-share, applicants will be required to provide 25 percent of the total amount awarded. For example, an award of $1,000 would require a $250 farm investment paired with $750 in grant funding. Distribution of funds is dependent upon the number of applications received and the strength of the marketing proposals.
To apply, farms must complete an online application. The deadline for the 2018 Agritourism Marketing Cost-Share Grant is Friday, March 16.