The Vermont Farm Women’s Fund (VFWF) is offering its next round of grants to help women farmers improve their businesses or become more involved in agricultural policy development. The proposal deadline is May 15, 2010.VFWF will also offer two free workshops – an in person session and another via conference call. These workshops are designed to answer questions and help prospective applicants understand the elements of a successful proposal. Both workshops will be held on April 27, and registration information is available at http://www.uvm.edu/~vfwf(link is external).VFWF provides two kinds of awards: Farm Business Development awards provide support for education and travel related to helping recipients improve some aspect of their business. Leadership Development awards help recipients develop leadership skills and access to opportunities to participate in agricultural policy development. Applicants for either award may request funds to help defray associated travel, childcare, and replacement labor.”The goal of the fund is to help women get the education they need to make their businesses thrive,” says Mary Peabody, a member of the fund’s advisory group. “We are interested in proposals from all quarters of the state and from farm women of all ages and backgrounds.”Farmers have used their awards to help research and develop new products; conduct feasibility studies; and to attend workshops, conferences and classes to learn new marketing, business management and value-added production skills and knowledge.Women account for a growing share of Vermont farmers. The most recent USDA Census of Agriculture showed that the number of female principal farm operators in Vermont increased by 50 percent, from 967 to 1466 between 2002 and 2007. The data also show that women typically operate smaller farms and have lower farm earnings than their male counterparts. The Vermont Farm Women’s fund was initially established by Vermont author and photographer Peter Miller, who donated a percentage of the sales of his book “Vermont Farm Women,” to the fund. The University of Vermont Extension, through the Women’s AgriculturalNetwork (WAgN), serves as the fiscal agent for the fund and administers the grant award process. A panel of Vermont farm women makes award decisions.Grants are capped at $750. Since its first round of funding in May 2008, the fund has awarded stipends to fifteen women.The deadline for submitting grant applications is May 15, 2010. Visit http://www.uvm.edu/~vfwf(link is external) for more information. Click on the “Upcoming Deadlines and Applications” link on the left to get to the online application form. Or you can request an application package by calling Grant Administrator, Libby McDonald at 802-999-4506.University of Vermont Extension, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or familial status.Source: Vermont Farm Women’s Fund.