The Hood River County Fruit Loop has received a $25,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA).
The Fruit Loop grant was one of 55 funded out of 263 applications for portions of $2.9 million earmarked for assisting specialty crop producers throughout the state.
The grants were awarded by the ODA in an attempt to provide financial assistance to as many producers as possible, focusing on collaborative projects that will bring early and meaningful results, according to the ODA. The U.S. Department of Agriculture made the funds available to Oregon and other states for specialty crop assistance.
According to Fruit Loop Marketing Director Kaye White, "We are very excited about the opportunity to expand our efforts to promote education and an understanding of Oregon agriculture that this grant provides. Last year, our media efforts yielded over $100,000 worth of exposure in nine color feature articles, four color articles and 18 miscellaneous articles which reached over two million readers, not including a four-page feature article in Sunset Magazine.
The extensive media generated by the Fruit Loop provides high visibility to agriculture on a state-wide basis, according to White.
"It strengthens the positive image of Oregon agriculture by providing an entertaining and educational farm experience where visitors can achieve an appreciation for, develop loyalty to Oregon agriculture, and return home a more informed consumer.
"Our Fruit Loop farms are on the front line of consumer education. The events we produce are designed to foster an understanding of farm life, culture and heritage."
The ODA Grant funds will enable Fruit Loop to produce a larger, full color Fruit Loop map, including an expanded event section with photographs. Distribution will double from 50,000 copies to 100,000. With the grant, Fruit Loop will be also able to develop and promote a series of behind-the-scenes, educational, agricultural tours.
"Economic impact will be increased by developing travel incentives designed to increase length of visitor stays and frequency of visits to the farms," White said. "By forging partnerships between our farms and our local business community, we will cross-promote each other by creating weekend travel packages that include stops along the Fruit Loop."
The grant will also enable Fruit Loop farms to distribute coupons offering discounted lodging at area hotels and motels, and will pay for increased signage including additional crop identification signs and highway signs. The signs focus on Hood River County as the largest pear growing region in Oregon.
The grant will also fund newly-created Fruit Loop signs, created and placed at participating Fruit Loop farms.