Hugh Weathers, commissioner of agriculture, announces that the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) has received a $78,000 grant from Project for Public Spaces (PPS), a non-profit organization devoted to creating and sustaining places that build community.

The term for the grant is April 1, 2006 — Dec. 1, 2007. The funding for the grant is provided by the Ford and the W. K. Kellogg Foundations.

The PPS grant will be used to enhance 10 existing markets under a pilot program to develop new markets and the marketing skills of vendors. The grant will also assist with providing nutritional educational materials and practical advice regarding the preparation and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. The final goal of the grant will be to establish a Farmers Market Association. The association will provide an opportunity for markets to exchange information, ideas, and resources.

The grant which will be administered by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture is designed to strengthen several South Carolina community based farmers markets. These markets will participate in a pilot program, where they will be able to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. The SCDA focus is on developing these markets for small farmers and improving access to food for nutritionally at risk individuals in the state. The entire program will be a tool to help increase access, reduce obesity, and improve the quality of life for low-income families in South Carolina.