Going For Greenhouse Grants

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For five years, Chris Byrnes, president of Viability in Holland, Mich., has been behind the scenes helping growers land serious grant money for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. Many of these grower case studies have been featured in Greenhouse Grower, including Walters Gardens in Michigan, Buckley Growers in Illinois and Pleasant View Gardens in New Hampshire.

The deadline for the next USDA Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) grant cycle is looming, but it’s never too late to start preparing for the next one. This source has been the sweet spot for most of the funding growers have received, but there are many options to explore at the federal, state and local levels. Byrnes specializes in helping growers and other agribusinesses navigate through this process and maximize the success of their projects being funded.

Before founding Viability, Byrnes was an economic development professional, serving as CEO of economic development agencies and chambers of commerce for 25 years. We asked Byrnes for his advice to growers interested in pursuing incentives to maximize their investments in energy savings.

GG: How did you come to specialize in writing grants for greenhouse and agribusiness industries?

CB: Our first few clients, including Walters Gardens, were ag related businesses. Most of our clients have been greenhouses and food processors. Both are energy intensive, a huge cost of production.

GG: How does the process begin with growers?

CB: It all begins with an initial inquiry via phone or email. Growers provide information on what they would like to do and we prepare a brief report explaining the programs they are eligible for and dollar amounts. We do this part as a free service. They may or may not choose to go with us. Folks aren’t necessarily going to want to do it themselves, but they can.

We’re not free. Our fees represent a percentage of the grant amount. Half the fee comes after the funding application is successful. We can’t guarantee funding because it’s a competitive process and we don’t know who else is applying. Our job is to submit the best application possible. Our success rate is five to seven times higher than the national average.

Connecting the dots is what we do. Nobody wants to deal with the federal government if they don’t have to. We understand what’s required in the grant application and have even helped agency staff better understand the potential use of programs. We have a clear understanding of the question and way it needs to be addressed to maximize the score. We work with clients on the best ways to reduce the cost of the project and score better with the granting agencies.

Every grant is not the same and every program is not the same. While the federal funds are competitive, others, such as water line extensions or road improvements, can be negotiated with the state or local government. Some states have aggressive programs.

A big part of our job is making it easy for the client. We’ll work with vendors on equipment and engineers on the tech side and stay out of the client’s hair as much as possible. Our staff has developed relationships with state and federal agencies.

Meet Byrnes At Short Course

Interested in learning more? Viability’s Chris Byrnes and Randy Monhemius from USDA Rural Devleopment will be presenting “Energy Savings in Today’s Greenhouse & Nursery Part 3” at OFA’s Short Course, 4 p.m., Sunday, July 12, in Columbus Ohio. Byrnes will outline services available to assist operations seeking grants, paperwork involved and potential grant sources. Monhemius will discuss USDA’s REAP program, which provides funding to rural small businesses and agricultural producers to help cover installation of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements.

GG : How long does the process take to develop and submit the grant proposal?

CB: Our fastest one is 32 days, but the client was very ready and responded quickly. We tell clients 60 to 90 days is typical. Once the applications are in, it takes from 60 to 75 days for the granting agency to score, review and award. The federal fiscal year ends Oct. 1, when there will be a new budget. Federal grants have to be awarded by the end of September.

GG : How can growers increase their odds and maximize their funding?

CB: If you want to access incentive funds, start inquiring early. If you begin the project and buy equipment without the grant, it can make you ineligible for funding later. What is typical is a business or home owner does the easiest and cheapest things first, like buying compact fluorescent light bulbs and insulating walls, and then they look at a grant for a big investment. You may hurt yourself if you do the other steps first. You often will score better with a more comprehensive proposal that demonstrates a good return on investment. You can do a better job and get more money.

We recommend pursuing the USDA companion loan guarantee to secure the rest of the financing. If you tie the grant proposal and loan guarantee together, you score more points and reduce the risk of the proposal.

Our engineers may reveal alternatives growers didn’t think of, which makes our application better. While the vendors who serve growers are good at what they do, the guy selling energy curtains may not know much about biomass boilers.

We also recommend pursuing efficiency improvements first. Get as efficient as you can before pursuing renewable energy options. Energy curtains are effective and score well on grants. An energy audit is included with our funding. At least inquire now. You can put three projects together in one grant application and space out the improvements. For REAP, you have two years to implement. When you spend a buck, USDA sends you 25 cents.

GG : Carbon credits have been an intriguing opportunity for growers to continue to receive money. How do they work?

CB: Essentially, for carbon credits, we quantify the amount of greenhouse gases you are emitting and how much you would reduce the carbon footprint with the projects you undertake. We write a project development document validated by a third-party engineer and put it on a registry, such as the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) in Europe. The carbon credit value on some registries may be four to five times higher than others, and we help our client get the highest value possible. We help growers keep records on their fuels and temperatures and validate this information, which results in credits being sold through brokers on the market. Carbon credits can bring you money for 10 years.

Delilah Onofrey directs Flower Power Marketing for the Suntory Collection. She can be reached at donofrey@gmail.com
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    71 comments on “Going For Greenhouse Grants

    1. Anonymous

      I have a 9500 sf commercial greenhouse in which I am contemplating growing flowers or hydroponic vegetables and using it as a workshop and learning experience for students from a local high school. Would there be funding available to purchase equipment and/or are there carbob credits that could be obtained to plow back into the program?

    2. Anonymous

      We are a school hoping to start a sustainability program. We plan to build a large greenhouse and create a student course that would be working on providing the produce for our food services. What types of grants exist for this, and where to I begin to look?

    3. Anonymous

      We are a small public school in the downtown area of Cleveland, OH. We are planning on building a greenhouse with vegetables and flowers. With the food that we produce, we will be donating to the local homeless shelters. My question is, what types of grants do we fill out and when are the due dates? Thank you for your time.

    4. Anonymous

      Hello ! is there any grants for landscapes plants grower.We got stuck with tons of plants , because of the housing business .

    5. Anonymous

      I teach second grade in an elementary school that wants to purchase a greenhouse for our Outdoor Investigation Lab. We need about $5,000.00 to purchase the greenhouse kit.Do you know any grants available that we could write to help us fund this project?
      Sincerely,
      Mary Legan

    6. Anonymous

      We have the land and are looking for grants to help put up a energy efficent green house for the growing of plants to sell to the public initally. We would like to grow into wholesale in the future.

    7. Anonymous

      We have the land to build one or more greenhouses and further our field raised bed areas. We need a Grant to promote and re-establish a growing interest in our local H.S. seniors in area. More green growers, vegetable gardeners, & backyard nurseries are needed. The greenhouse extends the growing season all year. Starting retail with below market prices, will eventually link our endeavors to produce a secondary wholesale market interest. Also any excess produce can be donated to local Island Harvest.

    8. Anonymous

      I have 100 + acres, which is a Texas Historic Farm, near Tyler, Tx.

      I would like to turn the land into a tomatoe or vegetable hothouse or greenhouse farm and utilize the land to it’s fullest potiential to grow food year round.

      The soil will grow practically any vegetable and sits atop a spring fed aquifer amoung other pluses the land holds.

      The idea here is to promote a cash crop year round at the wholesale and retail levels.

      Your help would be appreciated.

      TIA

    9. Anonymous

      I am interested in finding someone in the area to help walk me through the grant process. Where do I begin to look and get current info about the upcoming budget and programs? I am starting a organic chicken farm and organic greenhouse. I am located in Huntington WV.

    10. Anonymous

      I am very pleased to learn about greenhouse farming. in Uganda many people are ignorant about green house. I am interested in starting a greenhouse farming in Northern Uganda in my 6 acres of land. Is it posible for me to be helped by Greenhouse grower: Going for grant to support in this new venture?

    11. Anonymous

      I am a High School Agriculture and Horiculture teacher. I am wanting want to build a greenhouse for the students to use so that we can expand our agriculture/horticulture program. I want to give the kids a trade they can use. Do you know any grants available that we could write to help us fund this project?

    12. Anonymous

      I really need help to start a green house buisness. I have waited a long time to do what i really want to. I just purchaced 5 achers. now i need help getting money to buy the green houses to grow specialty plants and vegtables. I’m not sure if i should use my tax money and saved money to buy one green house at the begining of 2011. Please let me know if there is any grant money to help me start out with. I am located in Riga Mich.

      Thank you,

    13. Anonymous

      IS THERE GRANTS OR TAX INCETIVES FOR INDUSTRIAL GROWERS,SOIL BLENDERS, NURSERIES,IF THEY COULD REDUCE GREEN HOUSES GASES OMITED FROM FARMING AS WELL AS REDUCE WATER USAGE BY 50%?

    14. Anonymous

      We are just a residential house with interest in possibly putting up a small greenhouse to help grow our veggies all year to offset the cost of buying organic. Any ideas would be appreciated.

    15. Anonymous

      We have the land and are looking for grants to help put up a energy efficent green house for the growing of vegetables & plants to sell to the public initally. Are grants available? Where do we start? Thank you!

    16. Anonymous

      I live in a small rural community located in a watershed area in upstate New York.
      My neighbor and I have several acres that we produce vegetables for sale. I would like to put up one large or two small high tunnels for growing tomatoes and peppers produce. My question for you is, are there any grants that would assist me in this venture?

    17. Anonymous

      I’m a Special Education school teacher specifically working with children who have emotional issues. We live in a rural community sixty miles outside of Cleveland Ohio. Are there any grants that could be used towards the construction of a greenhouse. I have my students do community projects. Last year they built wooden bird boxes that went to two assisted living facilities in the community. This year they are going to grow flowers and vegetables to provide gardens for the same 2 facilities. I will be prposing to our board the want for a greenhouse, but I need funding. thank you.

    18. Anonymous

      I am looking for a grant to help me get started in growing flowers that the florists use. I have two places that are willing to buy from me now. I lost my husband of 30 years this Jan. and there are no jobs in our area, and I am not quite old enough to be a wal mart greeter, LOL! I have 5 acres of which has excellent soil, and I love to grow things, I am dedicated at it, and have a green thumb, it’s what I have always dreamed of having a greenhouse and nursery. I just don’t know how to go about getting a grant to support my dream. My husband was my income, so I am left trying to decide what to do with the land I have. If you can direct me in the right direction I would appreciate it.

    19. Anonymous

      We are an ex-home building company. The business has collapsed. We now live on a 93 acre farm and would like to do something profitable such as greenhouse, and/or hydroponics, meat goats etc. We would like to know if there are any grants available. We have a little money and lots of building knowledge and equipment. Thank you for your time, Larry

    20. Anonymous

      We are a small rural school, PreK-12 with an existing greenhouse. We have added horticulture to our hs electives and the greenhouse needs some renovations and updating. Please advise on any assistance available. Thank you, cl

    21. Anonymous

      I am a superintendent in a Preschool – 8th grade public school. Our free and reduced meal count is high – over 82%. We would like to first build a greenhouse followed by a school/community garden. Our hopes are to have the students learn how to grow plants in a greenhouse (school year projects) and eventually a garden that the students can work along with community members. During the summer months, community members will take care of the garden and reap what they sow. Do you know of any grants available that we could write to help us fund the greenhouse project?

    22. Anonymous

      I am in the process of starting a business that would sustainably provide produce to my growing rural retirement and artist community. I would use grant funds to construct greenhouses and solar panels to power the greenhouse and for the refrigeration of stored produce. Given that the community is in the Arizona desert the solar panels will be particularly effective. I have the support of local produce importers who are looking to diversify in reaction to political, ecological and border crossing issues. Do you know of any grants available that focus on women, energy efficiency, sustainable crop production?

    23. Anonymous

      I’m looking to build a greenhouse for my school. I am in 7th and this would be a great learning tool for the students at my school. With major cut backs in the Phoenix area it’s getting hard for us kids to get a good education. I do have a team of teachers who would be willing to help me, but I would still need your help as well. Can you help me?

    24. Anonymous

      I have a 9500 sf commercial greenhouse in which I am contemplating growing flowers or hydroponic vegetables and using it as a workshop and learning experience for students from a local high school. Would there be funding available to purchase equipment and/or are there carbob credits that could be obtained to plow back into the program?

    25. Anonymous

      We are a school hoping to start a sustainability program. We plan to build a large greenhouse and create a student course that would be working on providing the produce for our food services. What types of grants exist for this, and where to I begin to look?

    26. Anonymous

      We are a small public school in the downtown area of Cleveland, OH. We are planning on building a greenhouse with vegetables and flowers. With the food that we produce, we will be donating to the local homeless shelters. My question is, what types of grants do we fill out and when are the due dates? Thank you for your time.

    27. Anonymous

      Hello ! is there any grants for landscapes plants grower.We got stuck with tons of plants , because of the housing business .

    28. Anonymous

      I teach second grade in an elementary school that wants to purchase a greenhouse for our Outdoor Investigation Lab. We need about $5,000.00 to purchase the greenhouse kit.Do you know any grants available that we could write to help us fund this project?
      Sincerely,
      Mary Legan

    29. Anonymous

      We have the land and are looking for grants to help put up a energy efficent green house for the growing of plants to sell to the public initally. We would like to grow into wholesale in the future.

    30. Anonymous

      We have the land to build one or more greenhouses and further our field raised bed areas. We need a Grant to promote and re-establish a growing interest in our local H.S. seniors in area. More green growers, vegetable gardeners, & backyard nurseries are needed. The greenhouse extends the growing season all year. Starting retail with below market prices, will eventually link our endeavors to produce a secondary wholesale market interest. Also any excess produce can be donated to local Island Harvest.

    31. Anonymous

      I have 100 + acres, which is a Texas Historic Farm, near Tyler, Tx.

      I would like to turn the land into a tomatoe or vegetable hothouse or greenhouse farm and utilize the land to it’s fullest potiential to grow food year round.

      The soil will grow practically any vegetable and sits atop a spring fed aquifer amoung other pluses the land holds.

      The idea here is to promote a cash crop year round at the wholesale and retail levels.

      Your help would be appreciated.

      TIA

    32. Anonymous

      IS THERE GRANTS OR TAX INCETIVES FOR INDUSTRIAL GROWERS,SOIL BLENDERS, NURSERIES,IF THEY COULD REDUCE GREEN HOUSES GASES OMITED FROM FARMING AS WELL AS REDUCE WATER USAGE BY 50%?

    33. Anonymous

      We are just a residential house with interest in possibly putting up a small greenhouse to help grow our veggies all year to offset the cost of buying organic. Any ideas would be appreciated.

    34. Anonymous

      We have the land and are looking for grants to help put up a energy efficent green house for the growing of vegetables & plants to sell to the public initally. Are grants available? Where do we start? Thank you!

    35. Anonymous

      I live in a small rural community located in a watershed area in upstate New York.
      My neighbor and I have several acres that we produce vegetables for sale. I would like to put up one large or two small high tunnels for growing tomatoes and peppers produce. My question for you is, are there any grants that would assist me in this venture?

    36. Anonymous

      I’m a Special Education school teacher specifically working with children who have emotional issues. We live in a rural community sixty miles outside of Cleveland Ohio. Are there any grants that could be used towards the construction of a greenhouse. I have my students do community projects. Last year they built wooden bird boxes that went to two assisted living facilities in the community. This year they are going to grow flowers and vegetables to provide gardens for the same 2 facilities. I will be prposing to our board the want for a greenhouse, but I need funding. thank you.

    37. Anonymous

      I am looking for a grant to help me get started in growing flowers that the florists use. I have two places that are willing to buy from me now. I lost my husband of 30 years this Jan. and there are no jobs in our area, and I am not quite old enough to be a wal mart greeter, LOL! I have 5 acres of which has excellent soil, and I love to grow things, I am dedicated at it, and have a green thumb, it’s what I have always dreamed of having a greenhouse and nursery. I just don’t know how to go about getting a grant to support my dream. My husband was my income, so I am left trying to decide what to do with the land I have. If you can direct me in the right direction I would appreciate it.

    38. Anonymous

      We are an ex-home building company. The business has collapsed. We now live on a 93 acre farm and would like to do something profitable such as greenhouse, and/or hydroponics, meat goats etc. We would like to know if there are any grants available. We have a little money and lots of building knowledge and equipment. Thank you for your time, Larry

    39. Anonymous

      I am interested in finding someone in the area to help walk me through the grant process. Where do I begin to look and get current info about the upcoming budget and programs? I am starting a organic chicken farm and organic greenhouse. I am located in Huntington WV.

    40. Anonymous

      I am very pleased to learn about greenhouse farming. in Uganda many people are ignorant about green house. I am interested in starting a greenhouse farming in Northern Uganda in my 6 acres of land. Is it posible for me to be helped by Greenhouse grower: Going for grant to support in this new venture?

    41. Anonymous

      I am a High School Agriculture and Horiculture teacher. I am wanting want to build a greenhouse for the students to use so that we can expand our agriculture/horticulture program. I want to give the kids a trade they can use. Do you know any grants available that we could write to help us fund this project?

    42. Anonymous

      I really need help to start a green house buisness. I have waited a long time to do what i really want to. I just purchaced 5 achers. now i need help getting money to buy the green houses to grow specialty plants and vegtables. I’m not sure if i should use my tax money and saved money to buy one green house at the begining of 2011. Please let me know if there is any grant money to help me start out with. I am located in Riga Mich.

      Thank you,

    43. Anonymous

      We are a small rural school, PreK-12 with an existing greenhouse. We have added horticulture to our hs electives and the greenhouse needs some renovations and updating. Please advise on any assistance available. Thank you, cl

    44. Anonymous

      I am a superintendent in a Preschool – 8th grade public school. Our free and reduced meal count is high – over 82%. We would like to first build a greenhouse followed by a school/community garden. Our hopes are to have the students learn how to grow plants in a greenhouse (school year projects) and eventually a garden that the students can work along with community members. During the summer months, community members will take care of the garden and reap what they sow. Do you know of any grants available that we could write to help us fund the greenhouse project?

    45. Anonymous

      I am in the process of starting a business that would sustainably provide produce to my growing rural retirement and artist community. I would use grant funds to construct greenhouses and solar panels to power the greenhouse and for the refrigeration of stored produce. Given that the community is in the Arizona desert the solar panels will be particularly effective. I have the support of local produce importers who are looking to diversify in reaction to political, ecological and border crossing issues. Do you know of any grants available that focus on women, energy efficiency, sustainable crop production?

    46. Anonymous

      I’m looking to build a greenhouse for my school. I am in 7th and this would be a great learning tool for the students at my school. With major cut backs in the Phoenix area it’s getting hard for us kids to get a good education. I do have a team of teachers who would be willing to help me, but I would still need your help as well. Can you help me?

    47. ROC ZINGALE (produce buyer)

      I currently work for a foodservice company in the heart of CLEVELAND OHIO,we are looking for a opportunity to grow and distribute local produce to the community and local food bank.WE think this would be great chance to serve our city in such a trying time.THERE is about 3 acres of vacant land that gets full sun on our property.MY partner and I have over 50 years in the produce industry THANKS HAVE A HAPPY NEWYEAR

    48. Anna Maria Reese

      I currently represent a non-profit organization, (in the Making) We just purchased a distresed nursing home sitting on 18 achres of land. We are looking to established this building and land to house homeless Vets that will learn to work the land and provide healthy grown food for themselves and the surrounding community. We have much work to do in finding funds for the building and the land, and know we must start somewhere. We just welcomed aboard a man who is aware of all the ins and outs of putting the green houses together and to get them established. Please consider assistance and look forward to hearing from you.

    49. Julia

      I'm currently a high school student. I run our school greenhouse(if it can be called that), and my Ag teacher and I are trying to build a new greenhouse that is able to suit our needs. As a incoming junior I'd like to try and have one built by my senior year. I'd like to set up a after school program for the younger schools to come and learn about ag and plant life at a young age. I need help with this though. I need a grant because my school has no money for a project like this. Please if you can help, that'd be so great. Thank you.

    50. Ivan - student - Scott Duggan teacher

      We are building a greenhouse at our school. We have fund raised some money and are looking for additional grants. If you could send us any info on obtaining a grant we would appreciate it. Thanks for your time. Ivan

    51. john harrison

      need a greenhouse for my own personal use to help suplement my income since iam a senior citizen and on a senior income. have lots of knowledge on running a greenhous. have a small greenhouse but need to have a larger one. if you can help witha grant it would be deepley appreciTED.HAVE 10 ACREAS OF PROPERTY AND COULD USE HALF OF IT FOR A GREENHOUSE ANY SIZE WOULD BE HELPFUL.

    52. Donna Hays

      I am the president of the Ag Advisory Council for the Chambersburg Area School District in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Recent changes in the school district moved 9th graders to the high school, closed the junior high and made it a middle school. There are now two middle schools in the district offering introduction to ag classes but only the former junior high school has a greenhouse. When these changes were being implemented it was stated that both middle schools and their students would be offered the same classes/course equally. This is not the case. We are interested in obtaining a grant for a greenhouse and will of course be pursuing matching funds. Please provide me with additonal information on your grants. Thank you for your interest and time. Donna

    53. Daniel Janoushek

      currently in the Horticulture progam at the College of Western Idaho . My goal is to establish a Solar generated greenhouse for sustainable plants and fire wise plants for south western I daho . Have access to 80 acres to construct and cultivate for the project as well a community gardens for the near by communities …I would appriciate help with donations and grant opurtunities

    54. Steven Donner

      we are on the way to starting the business in green house growing and are look for some asst. We have a plan and land picket out and are going forward I am interested in the carbon credits and how to obtain them. we are planning to be mostly off grid,with renewable energy. so any help in this area would be appreciated. Thank you Steven Donner

    55. Karen

      We have an opportunity to buy a used greenhouse it has no cover. We grow organically and want assistance to help pay. thank you, Karen

    56. Matt Grennell

      I am in the process of applying for a commercial loan to purchase my uncle and aunts greenhouse business. They have a 4.5 acre piece of land with their house on it and 20,000 sqft of fully equipped greenhouse space (automatic watering, autoclimatized, heated concrete floors in the germination house and a semi-automatic machine that seeds trays to name a few of the most prominent features). This is a $725,000 loan and if by some miracle I get it I will need grant money badly. there is room enough on this property to build another greenhouse of the same size. We want to continue my uncles successful spring/summer flower sales and then work into adding wholesale as well as retail non-gmo/organic produce. The place has been successfully doing business for 27 years but mostly for spring ans summer sales without production outside of that season. I know there is amazing potential with this property. i've got a lot of money seeking to learn fast. I would definitely need some assistance in getting the funding this place needs.

    57. Matt Grennell

      I am in the process of applying for a commercial loan to purchase my uncle and aunts greenhouse business. They have a 4.5 acre piece of land with their house on it and 20,000 sqft of fully equipped greenhouse space (automatic watering, autoclimatized, heated concrete floors in the germination house and a semi-automatic machine that seeds trays to name a few of the most prominent features). This is a $725,000 loan and if by some miracle I get it I will need grant money badly. there is room enough on this property to build another greenhouse of the same size. We want to continue my uncles successful spring/summer flower sales and then work into adding wholesale as well as retail non-gmo/organic produce. The place has been successfully doing business for 27 years but mostly for spring ans summer sales without production outside of that season. I know there is amazing potential with this property. i've got a lot of money seeking to learn fast. I would definitely need some assistance in getting the funding this place needs.

    58. Jim Johnson

      I have 20 acres in north Nevada with a short growing season and a poor a medium to grow and I want to grow and hoop houses to extend my growing season and create a good and helpful fruits and vegetables for the people in my community the restaurants the food bank and the farmers market. would there be a program that would cover this.