MODESTO -- An $84,778 federal grant will promote a new "Stanislaus County Grown" brand within the county, including in communities with poor access to fresh produce.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the grant to the East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District, which will carry out the effort over two years.
An early step will be establishing a farmers market in a "food desert," a community where fresh food is in short supply, said Andrea Bowling, the district's executive director. The site has not been selected.
The effort involves promoting farmers markets and other direct-to-consumer sales via a Web site, directory and map.
"Our focus is really to help consumers, especially those in food deserts, have more access to fresh food," said Jamie McFarlin, a resource conservation technician for the district.
The program will help growers qualify for "certified" status, which assures that food at farmers markets is of local origin.
The grant was part of the latest round of funding from the Farmers Market Promotion Program, totaling more than $9 million.
"This year's Farmers Market Promotion Program awards are diverse and illustrate the many different ways farmers are directly connecting to communities and consumers," Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said in a news release.
"From starting up mobile markets to helping new farmers and ranchers, these grants will create new economic opportunities and encourage consumers to eat healthier."
The program has awarded more than $32 million since 2006.
More information on the Stanislaus County effort is at (209) 491-9320, ext. 122, or www.eaststanrcd.org.
The USDA promotes local food through its Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food campaign. More information is at www.usda.gov.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2385.