SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- New federal grants will help The Conservation Fund offer hands-on business coaching and marketing tips to help West Virginia farmers and food producers grow their ventures.
The group's Natural Capital Investment Fund in Shepherdstown will serve 17 counties, or nearly one-third of the state.
Initial support for the Value Chain Cluster Initiative came from a federal Rural Jobs Accelerator Challenge Grant.
Thirteen grants were awarded. NCIF President Marten Jenkins says two recently went to West Virginia.
The state then won $900,000 in matching funds from various partners.
The USDA's agricultural census says the number of West Virginia farmers selling products directly to consumers grew 39 percent between 2002 and 2007.
Another study suggests the state could create more than 1,700 jobs if everyone consumed local produce during the growing season.