The idea for the Elgin Local Food Center came about during a conversation between a couple of farmers, Erin Flynn of Green Gate Farms (Austin) and Sue Beckwith of Shades of Green Farm (Paige, TX) back in 2011. They were trying to find ways for farmers to sell their perfectly edible but kinda ugly food and still get a fair price for it. They thought value-added processing might be a good solution. Sue had been part of converations in Elgin, Texas initiated by Elgin Mayor Marc Holm, to fund ways to preserve the agricultureal heritage of Elgin. It seemed value-added and local food processing could perhaps solve both of these problems. So the idea of the Elgin Local Food Business Center is to stimulate new local food businesses while increasing family farmer net income in Elgin, Texas!
ELGIN, TEXAS – The City of Elgin has received a $95,130 grant from the USDA to begin an exciting pilot project to support local food business development. The Elgin Local Food Business Center will provide technical assistance and training to Texas vegetable and fruit farmers interested in creating new products from their crops. “Several farms around Elgin such as Yegua Creek Pecan Farm and Bernhardt’s Farm already create fantastic products such as jams, sauces and pickled okra. This project will help farmers expand their product offerings and help other farmers begin producing these shelf-stable products,” said Sue Beckwith the project’s director.
“Elgin is a leader in the local food industry and this project will help us support family farms as we continue to balance growth with retention of our agricultural heritage. Broad collaboration with regional and national partners is essential for positive change that drives our success as a hub of local food enterprise,” said Elgin Mayor Marc Holm.
Partners in the Elgin Local Food Business Center pilot project include Texas A&M AgriLife, Advocacy Outreach of Elgin, Elgin ISD, Coyote Creek Farm, Bernhardt’s Farm, Green Gate Farm, Southside BBQ, Growers Alliance of Central Texas, Austin Community College Elgin campus Sustainable Agriculture program, Stellar Gourmet, Sustainable Food Center, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, City of Austin Office of Sustainability, Moontower Coop, Prairie View A&M University, Waller County Farmers’ and Ranchers’ Cooperative, Oklahoma State University and the National Center for Appropriate Technology.
“This USDA grant award is one of only two in Texas and demonstrates the increasing national and regional recognition of Elgin as a forward thinking city actively supporting local agriculture and local business,” said Molly Alexander, board member of the Elgin Economic Development Corporation.
About USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Local Food Promotion Program
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) works to improve global opportunities for U.S. growers and producers. AMS grant funding supports a variety of programs, including organic certification cost-share programs, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, and the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program. This funding is one of the ways that the USDA invests in the future of rural America and the nation’s agricultural sector.
About Elgin, Texas
The City of Elgin (pop. 8,135) has a deep agricultural heritage and is perfectly situated to be a leader in local food and agriculture. With some of the best farmland in the country and located just 20 miles east of Austin Texas, Elgin is in the heart of the “Texas Triangle” within 200 miles of 17 million people (Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Austin).
We might have a local food processing center in Elgin! The City of Elgin has received a grant from the USDA to examine feasibility and write a business plan to establish a facility in Elgin to process food produced by area farmers. The project is being led by Elgin area farmers from Bernhardt’s Farm (on FM1704), Tecolote and Green Gate Farms (both off 969) with advice and wisdom from many other family farms in our area. Sue Beckwith is the project manager for the City of Elgin.