Sweethaven Lavender of Williamsburg (Sweethaven) has been named a 2020-2021 recipient of a United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Value Added Producer Grant. Only 350 winners were awarded funding in this year’s competitive, nationwide grant round. Sweethaven was one of 14 Virginia-based businesses to receive funding. Virginia agribusinesses totaled $2.8 million in USDA Value Added Producer Grants.
“Thanks to the Value Added Producer Grant, we have already hired an Operations Assistant, partnered with Soulful Coffee Roasters to release a lavender coffee and linked arms with Divine Lunches to create two lavender baking mixes and will be able to welcome back all seasonal staff for the 2021 bloom season,” said Kerry Messer, owner of Sweethaven.
Grant administrators score farmer applicants based on:
- Proven ability to generate sustainable income from the farm’s crop
- Demonstrated ability to transform the crop into new value-added products
- The applicant’s business strategy for increasing market share and creating and maintaining jobs
Letters of recommendation from the farm’s community are a key component of receiving funding. Sweethaven garnered praise from its partners who sell Sweethaven products or who incorporate lavender into their own menus. Leaders in local tourism and James City County Economic Development Authority also offered letters of support for Sweethaven.
The Economic Development Authority letter stated, “We know many other businesses have featured your lavender crop in their products including mead, honey, baked goods, herbal remedies and soap.” Sweethaven works locally with bakeries, Silver Hand Meadery, Divine Lunches and others.
Sweethaven totals more than 100 acres and is the only lavender farm in James City County. They are located at 2301 Jolly Pond Road and are open seasonally. The 2021 Lavender Festival will not take place due to COVID-19, but appointments will open for the 2021 bloom season in March. For more information, please visit Sweethaven’s website, Facebook page, Instagram or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura Messer, Tourism & Marketing Coordinator