Sainato: $150,000 awarded to Villa Maria farm center for hands-on learning

Will educate new farmers about organic agriculture

NEW CASTLE, May 11 – The Villa Maria Farm Center for Regenerative Agriculture is receiving a $151,106 grant from the state Department of Agriculture to help train new and beginning farmers about growing organic specialty crops, state Rep. Chris Sainato announced today.

Sainato, D-Lawrence, said the funding will support in-person learning in demonstration gardens, as well as virtual learning, for an organization especially devoted to the community.

“The Villa Maria Farm Center is a special place that embodies the self-reliance and community-minded spirit of the sisters who run it,” Sainato said. “A good portion of the farm’s produce is donated to food banks, shelters and parishes, and one of the center’s expressed goals is ensuring a fresh local food supply to those who need it.

“Thanks to the new funding, the center will be able to provide hands-on learning and virtual lessons in organic agriculture to 10 new farmers each year. It’s a great investment that will bolster local agriculture while reinforcing the center’s messages of self-sufficiency, sustainability and community giving.”

The farm, which operates on 759 acres, is part of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary’s Villa Maria Community Center.

The grant is part of a package of $2.45 million in federal grants awarded statewide to 23 projects that will grow markets and increase the quality, safety and sustainability of the state’s vegetable, fruit, nut and nursery specialty crops. The funding comes from Federal Specialty Crop Block Grants funded by the federal Farm Bill and awarded in a competitive process administered by the department.

More on the grants is available here: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Agriculture_details.aspx?newsid=1209