Greenville, SC- The Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery has reached a major milestone with the announcement that the local food market and cafe has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Local Food Promotion Program. The grant will fund equipment and personnel to increase the capacity to buy, store, process, and sell local foods in the Upstate of South Carolina. Co-owner Mary says “We’ve always planned on increasing our ability to buy, process, and sell more foods from our farmers, but raising the capital to do that would take years. This grant will allow us to make these improvements now.”
The Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery is the only local grocer that is committed to sourcing products as locally as possible, including but not limited to local produce, meats, dairy, and value-added products. To date the SRCG works with nearly 150 local farmers and producers to supply the Greenville area with the highest quality foods. SRCG has served as the first wholesale account for many budding new farms and local food distributors. The upcoming project will include the physical expansion of the business from its current 2600 square feet to 6100 square feet. This new space will create a more efficient delivery area for farmers, expand upon the current kitchen area and equipment, and add additional walk-in cooler and freezer space. These additions and expansions will allow the business to increase its capacity to purchase local goods by 50%, adding at least another 20 new local suppliers. In addition to this, several new jobs will be created.
Since its opening in 2011 the SRCG has helped to revitalize the immediate area along the Swamp Rabbit Trail. In efforts to encourage healthy eating, the Grocery accepts and encourages the use of the EBT/SNAP program benefits. The grant will help expand marketing to reach lower-income customers, increase awareness that EBT/SNAP benefits are accepted and offer choices to lead to a healthier lifestyle.
The expansion and grant will help to create additional kitchen facilities, allowing the business to produce more value-added products from local ingredients, such as its house-made pesto and ready-to-eat items. The space will even serve as a resource to farmers to create value-added products to sell in the SRCG or on their own. The kitchen will be conducive to teaching in-house cooking classes to teach the home cook how to use local and seasonal ingredients to create their own meals from scratch.
The generous Local Food Promotion Program grant from the USDA will enable the Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery to increase its ability to act as a regional food hub. The growth of its already-successful four year old agricultural business will ensure that Upstate residents have access to healthy regional foods, and will guarantee the region’s farmers have the ability to sell their goods in a local market.
More information about the Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery can be found at http://swamprabbitcafe.com, or through its large presence on social media. For more information about the Local Food Promotion Program, visit http://www.ams.USDA.gov/services/grants/lfpp.