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Success Stories

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VAPG sheep

Rural Development grant helps market, grow Kentucky Spring Lamb

The bleating of sheep when they hear the feed bucket can be deafening. “BAAAAA! BAAAAA! BAAAAA! BAAAAA! BAAAAA! BAAAAA!” Like a nearby car horn or a low-flying jet, the sound can stop conversations cold. To a sheep producer, that is the sound of money, and more and more… [Read More]
finnriver coowners photo by james curtis. Three people smiling in front of fermenting equipment and bottles.

Sustainability at the Core

For many, apples are a sweet addition to a balanced diet. For Eric Jorgensen, one of the founders of Finnriver Farm & Cidery, apples are a way of life. Jorgensen and his partners started their small organic fruit and vegetable farm in Chimacum, Washington, on the state’s… [Read More]
Smiling woman standing in a shop with honey and honey-themed products on shelves on the walls and on racks.

Entrepreneurs and RD: a Match Meant to Bee

Mark and Linda Graf have a crew of over 400,000 bees in over 100 hives working for them near Emerson, Nebraska. The Buzz, their store on Main Street, sells local honey and related products.   The Grafs are shining examples of entrepreneurship in rural America. Linda describes… [Read More]
Owner of Fable Farms preparing wine

Building Small Rural Businesses

Small businesses are the center of rural communities and ensuring they have the tools needed to be successful is important for their sustainability. Fable Farms, a wine company in Washington, felt the strain during COVID-19 in 2020. Finding supplies for the business and getting… [Read More]
Jeanne Carver, founder and owner of Shaniko Wool, raising sheep

Helping the Wool Producing Industry One Sheep at a Time

Shaniko Wool Company and its partners have been raising sheep for 128 years. Over the last several years, the company has emerged as a leader in the wool textile industry, becoming the first RWS-certified company in North America in 2018.  “We felt this was an opportunity to… [Read More]
True Chesapeake Oyster Company

USDA Partners with One Small Farm to Make Enormous Impact

Deep beneath the cool waters of the largest estuary in the United States, rests a hidden world teeming with limitless possibilities. Chesapeake Bay is considered a national treasure, with a watershed stretching 64,000 square miles, touching six states, and impacting more than 16… [Read More]
Freeze-dried fruit chips in plates on a table laid out for sampling.

Freeze Drying Lessens a Farmer’s Financial Risk Plus More

Rachael Ryan is a life-long farmer from southern New Mexico. Over the years she’s seen the ups and downs of her farming business called Back Yard Farms. --And she especially knows about the downs that come as an ag producer. She loves farming, but she knows farmers are at the… [Read More]
Staff from Back Yard Farms hold packages of apple chips that were just produced and ready for sale using the freeze-drying method.

What a great idea, how come nobody thought of this before?

The workers at Backyard Farms in Vado, New Mexico have barely begun another day of freeze-drying produce when another truck carrying hundreds of pounds of apples arrives to deliver its load.  Since Backyard Farms began freeze drying food it’s become a beehive of activity. All… [Read More]
A baby in a basket sits on a table next to a board game and a wine glass. Behind them, family and friends gather on green grass beneath a blue sky for what appears to be a picnic or some kind of gathering with tables and umbrellas.

RiverCrest Ranch Finds Community, Opportunity in USDA Grant

RiverCrest Ranch has always been a place worth sharing. Nestled in Oregon's Applegate Valley, the ranch's 11 and a half acres still hold the remnants of an 1870s hydraulic gold mining operation and "the best swimming hole on the Applegate River," according to owner Cathy Rodgers… [Read More]
cheese products photo

Making Own Products is a Dream Come True for Small Rural South Dakota Business

In the spring of 2017, Chad Blase quit his full-time job to go back to work with his parents on their dairy farm. Within months, milk prices were sinking and Chad and his partner Laura Klock, along with Chad’s parents, Amy and Gary Blase, realized it was time to have some… [Read More]