VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher, second from right, presents a ceremonial check to Deana Haines, representing the seed capital matching grant funding recently approved for Fat Cat Farm LLC. From left are Small Business Development Center Director Tim Blankenbecler; Haines; Belcher; and Penny Horton, of the Scott County Economic Development Authority.

DUFFIELD, VA – SEPTEMBER 13, 2019 — Farming has been something Deana Haines, of Duffield, has done since she was a child. Opening her own greenhouse is something she has wanted to do her whole life and with the help of a $10,000 seed capital matching grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA), Haines is working toward realizing that dream.

She has plans to grow a variety of culinary herbs, flowers, vegetables and strawberries – started from seed and grown to various stages for retail sale at local farmers markets and offered at wholesale to local farm and garden stores and health food stores.

“Agriculture remains as one of VCEDA’s target industries and Fat Cat Farm LLC’s business plan certainly fits that market with its plans to construct multiple greenhouses and add to the growth of local produce, herbs and fruits,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “The business application projects one full-time job within a year and an additional part-time job within two years.”

Haines, who already raises cattle and grows hay on her farm in Scott County, grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania. She lived in Cocke County, Tenn., for 15 years before moving to Scott County more than five years ago. She is planning to build her first greenhouse on the Scott County farm and open it by next summer. Her initial focus will be growing strawberries and she added she also wants to dabble in culinary herbs.

“I really hope to get into online sales on the herbs,” Haines said.

She noted she plans to install a hydroponic system in the greenhouse to allow for the production of strawberries year-round. A second greenhouse is planned by the third year which will allow the first greenhouse to be used solely for the hydroponic strawberry growth, with the focus in the second greenhouse turned to produce and herbs.

The funds from the VCEDA grant, she said, will be used for supplies and equipment in readying the site for the first greenhouse and in its actual construction.

“I wouldn’t be able to take on this project without the help from the VCEDA grant,” Haines said. “Everyone there has been great to work with on this project.”

Haines also worked with Tim Blankenbecler, of the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College, in the development of the Fat Cat Farm LLC business plan and application to VCEDA.

“Tim has been great to work with,” Haines said.

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vaceda.org  or www.e-Region.org.

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.