Farmland in the Finger Lakes region on a sunny day.
April 8, 2021
Albany, NY

State Agriculture Commissioner Announces More Than $150,000 to Strengthen Agricultural Industry in the Genesee Valley

State Agriculture Commissioner Announces More Than $150,000 to Strengthen Agricultural Industry in the Genesee Valley
Funding Approved by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority Will Support Critical Education, Workforce Development, and Promotion Initiatives
Five Projects Will Engage BIPOC Communities in Agriculture and Provide Hands-on Workforce Training Opportunities, Connect Farmers to New Markets

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced $150,000 has been awarded for projects that will strengthen the agricultural industry in the nine-county area that makes up the Genesee Valley.  The funding, which was approved by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority (GVRMA), in collaboration with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, will support critical education, workforce development, and marketing and promotion initiatives. A portion of the funding, more than $50,000, will support projects that engage Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities in agriculture, providing hands-on workforce training opportunities at local farms and farmers’ markets

Commissioner Ball said, “Congratulations to the all of today’s award recipients. They have developed creative and exciting projects that will help move the agricultural industry forward.  There is a strong focus on agricultural education and training for new or young farmers in our BIPOC communities, which will help provide new opportunities and career paths in agriculture.  The investments in all of the projects, while geographically located in the Genesee Valley, will positively impact agriculture statewide. I thank the GVRMA for their partnership in advancing this important program.”

Brendan Tydings, Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority Administrator, said, “The Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority is excited to announce this year's recipients of funding. This has been a very challenging year, but all of these applicants are a great reminder of all the amazing work that is still going on here in the Genesee Valley Region. We at the Regional Market are committed to supporting local agriculture and agribusinesses through these recipients and we are excited to see all of the great work that will come out of these programs.”

The following entities were awarded funding to help engage New York’s BIPOC communities in agriculture: 

  • The Vineyard Farms, Inc., $15,000 - This project will train 12 young people, ages 10-18, to participate in the Youth Organic Farming & Farmers’ Market Training Program. Participants will learn the principles of organic farming in a greenhouse to maximize the yield of fresh fruits and vegetables through year-round production. They will also receive training in urban and sustainable farming and general business principles that will lay the foundation for a career in the agricultural industry.  Participants will learn marketing techniques to operate an on-site farmers’ market to sell and distribute fresh fruits and vegetables.  The project will also help address food access in an underserved area.
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension- Monroe County, $14,750 - This project will support the Landscape Technicians’ Training Program, which is a 120-hour, six-week training program in the field of horticulture. Students learn basic horticultural knowledge and are introduced to the many resulting possible career paths. Students also receive their 10-hour OSHA Construction Safety certification. The goal of the program is for all students to gain immediate employment upon completion of the program.
  • Green Visions, $15,000 - This project will support Green Visions, which provides supervised workforce experience, job certifications and career development training to 15 young people, ages 17-24, in industries such as agriculture and food processing. Participants will install, maintain, and harvest cut-flower gardens on former vacant city lots in Rochester.  Arrangements will be sold through Wegmans stores and at the Rochester Public Market, giving participants experience in production, sales, and marketing.
  • Westside Farmers Market (WFM), $10,000 - This project will launch a pilot program to connect local farmers, including BIPOC farmers, to the WFM. The project goals include having new vendors at the WFM during the 2021 season and to help build small BIPOC-owned farms and connect them with farmers’ markets.
  • Food for the Spirit, $15,000 - This project will engage 5 Black farmers from the Genesee Valley and create a marketing campaign featuring Black farmers in the region. It builds on a collaborative effort to develop a New York State Black farmers marketing co-op.

In addition, the following projects were awarded funding for the promotion and marketing of New York agricultural products and programs, and agricultural education:

  • NY Kitchen (NY Wine & Culinary Center), $15,000 - This project will support and promote hands-on cooking, craft beverage and agricultural education at the NY Wine and Culinary Center, including their 100% New York State Tasting Room.
  • Finger Lakes Wine Alliance (FLWA), $15,000 - This project will support the updating of strategic marketing content through photography used to improve websites, print material for distribution, social media advertising, etc., brochure redevelopment, and website upgrades and updates.
  • CCE – Orleans County, $12,862 - This project will increase the capacity for youth to engage in agriculture and the food system in a meaningful and economically successful way that encourages engagement in agricultural careers and increases community connection to the food system.
  • CCE – Yates & Steuben Counties, $15,000 - This project will support the creation of a professional video promoting Keuka Lake wine history, viticulture, and enology, which will be provided to winery owners who may not have funds to support their own promotional videos.  Video will be shared on social media and the websites of Tourism Promotional Agencies and CCE Extensions.
  • Marcus Whitman High School, $15,000 - This project will support the construction of an on-campus maple syrup sugarhouse, allowing students to learn about the maple syrup industry, food processing, and on-farm work skills.
  • Bishop Kearney High School, $15,000 - This project will continue to enhance the high school’s horticulture and agriculture program through a partnership with CCE. Through CCE, students will develop cultivation and harvesting skills and increase their knowledge about organic gardening, natural resources, nutrition, and the impact we all have on our environment.

Sister Marsha, The Vineyard Farms, Inc., said, “President Franklin D. Roosevelt, said it best, ‘We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.’  The Vineyard Farms, Inc. with the award from GVRMA will teach and build 12 youths to be a catalyst through greenhouse organic farming year-round and to be a part of bringing an end to food scarcity in zip code 14605, Rochester, NY.”

Andrea M Lista, Cornell Cooperative Extension Monroe County Executive Director, said, “CCE-Monroe is appreciative of the support for the Landscape Technician Training Program.  One of the defining components of this program is the daily interaction between students and the horticultural industry, specifically potential employers. This interaction ensures employees find a career path that feels successful to them.  In turn, employers benefit from a workforce that has shown commitment to the horticulture industry. This is a win-win for those who are seeking employment and an industry that is need of an enthusiastic workforce.”

Robert Batt, Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director, said, “This funding will allow Orleans CCE to support youth producing food to make community impact through donations and further learn about careers and entrepreneurship in agriculture. Several youths participated in writing the application for funding and are already excited, eager to get to work, and grateful for the opportunity GVRMA has provided.”

Sam Filler, Executive Director of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, said, Agriculture is a key economic driver for the Genesee Valley and Finger Lakes region.  GVRMA provides valuable investments in the value-added product sector.  Their support of the wine industry has been a key instigator for its growth and creating new jobs.”

The GVRMA, in cooperation with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, solicits applications each year to assist in the development of agriculture and agriculture-related businesses in nine counties in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates. Agriculture supports thousands of jobs in the Genesee Valley, and is one of the key areas of investment in the Finger Lakes Forward and Southern Tier Soaring regional economic development plans.

For more information on the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority, please visit: