2020 Specialty Crop Block Grants Awarded


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MANHATTAN, Kansas — The Kansas Department of Agriculture has been awarded $331,846 through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Funds for the program are presented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Marketing Service to increase opportunities for specialty crops. According to the USDA, specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” KDA has selected other recipients to further utilize the funds.

The following is a list of Kansas projects that will be funded by the grant:

  • Prairieland Market, Increasing Specialty Crops in Prepared Foods and Retail Sales at Prairieland Market, $42,655 (Saline County) — Through increased marketing, this project will expand community awareness of prepared foods and retail opportunities to consume local specialty crops that Prairieland Market in Salina will source from more than 12 local growers.
  • Extension Education Foundation, Promoting Specialty Crops in South Central Kansas through Growing Growers Learning Network, $68,312 (Sedgwick County) — The foundation will build upon previous successes of the Growing Growers program and create a Growing Growers Learning Network to provide quality learning experiences for new, beginning, and socially disadvantaged producers related to recommended business practices, best food safety practices, and developing quality sustainable business.
  • Kansas State University, Building Capacity for Education and Research Opportunities at K-State’s Willow Farm, $55,692 (Riley County) — K-State will establish the Willow Lake Student Farm as the premier small- to mid-scale diversified farm research and training center in the Midwest by improving the farm’s infrastructure for hosting and teaching for-credit courses, workshops, field days, short courses, internships, and volunteer opportunities.
  • Kansas Department of Agriculture, Specialty Crop Conference Education Support, $35,732 (statewide) — KDA will financially assist Kansas specialty crop growers to attend a recognized conference on specialty crop growing techniques and industry to increase their knowledge base and develop a plan of action to implement new ideas into their operations.
  • Kansas Specialty Crop Growers Association, Growing and Sustaining the Kansas Specialty Crop Growers Association, $61,744 (statewide) — KSCGA will work to grow the reach of the association by: improving communication for specialty crop growers across the state, evaluating the current online/alternative marketing channels for specialty crops, upgrading the KSCGA member directory, and building a statewide Specialty Crop Growers Support Bureau.
  • Children First: CEO Kansas, Fresh Food Matters, $55,995 (Sedgwick County) — Children First: CEO Kansas will educate area students about the importance of growing and eating specialty crops through experiential learning in four learning gardens throughout the area. Further programs will include teaching adults how to prepare specialty crops in a teaching kitchen, as well as distribution of information cards throughout the area.

For more information including past recipients, visit the KDA Specialty Crop Block Grant web page at

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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