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Vidalia Onion Committee receives grant
Group gets $30,000 for museum, Web site from Georgia Dept. of Ag
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      Wendy Brannen, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee and chair of the Vidalia Onion Museum Committee, was recently awarded $30,000 to bolster both Vidalia area tourism and the Vidalia onion name.
      Brannen applied for two grants through the Georgia Department of Agriculture block grant program designed to fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program was established by the 2008 Farm Bill, and once Brannen was notified by the GDA of the $30,000 potential allocation, the grants then had to receive federal approval.
      About $20,000 will go towards completion of Brannen's pet project, the Vidalia Onion Museum retrofit and renovation, which is now $40,000 shy of the $215,000 total project cost.
      "I was absolutely floored that I managed to get this money from Block Grant Funding," Brannen saidd. "Honestly, I figured the hours spent writing this one would be in vain. The news felt like winning the lottery!"
      The other $10,000 will go towards Web site renovations for the www.VidaliaOnion.org site, which is the Official Vidalia Onion Web site and is owned and maintained by the Vidalia Onion Committee.
      The Department of Agriculture set up a competitive grant process to award the federal funds in 2009. Georgia is administering funds totaling $909,576.44 for the development of projects that will support and enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the state. Examples of eligible crops are fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, Christmas trees, turf grass/sod, and nursery and greenhouse crops.
      The Vidalia Onion Museum Committee hopes to offer a sneal=k peek of the new museum by Vidalia Onion Festival week in the spring, and the growers and packers of the committee have pledged the large sum of money needed for a wide-scale grand opening and media event later in 2010. Exhibit installation and content development are currently underway.