Grants to assist in increasing local food production have been awarded to six Winneshiek County producers by the Northeast Iowa Food & Farm Coalition (NIFF.)

The grant money is intended to assist in starting or expanding local food production in the Northeast Iowa counties of Winneshiek, Allamakee, Howard, Chickasaw, Clayton and Fayette.

Recipients of the grants were selected by a judging team led by Winneshiek County Development, Inc (WCDI). All six recipients in Winneshiek County were awarded $500 grants, the maximum allotted.

WCDI Director Randy Uhl said the quality of the projects to increase local-food production has risen sharply in recent years.

"We've been awarding the Ag Mini Grants for several years and the 2011 applications were as strong as any we've seen to date," Uhl said. "All of those receiving grants this year are very strong projects. The maximum award for these grants is $500 and each winner in our county deserved that amount."

The grant money is a portion of the overall $37,535 spent on these projects to help increase the production and marketing of local foods in Winneshiek County.

Winneshiek County grant recipients included:

• Brian Nordschow, Prairie View Vineyard, 1968th 185th Ave., Decorah. The funds will be used for a walk-in cooler for the table-grape operation.

• Kyle and Mari Holthaus, Kymar Acres, 2168 Winnamakee Road. The funds will be used for farm stand construction.

• Marty Grimm, Upper Iowa Organics, LLC, 2251 Oil Well Road, Decorah. The funds will be used for fencing for organically-raised livestock.

• Michael and Laurie Tallman, 1218 120th Ave., Castalia. The funds will be used to renovate a hoghouse into a greenhouse.

• Mike Bollinger and Katie Prochaska, River Root Farm, 2789 River Road, Decorah. The funds will be used for a walk-in cooler and pack house equipment.

• Sarah Wicks, Given Gardens, Decorah. The funds will be used for a hoop house.These grants are part of the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative, a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food & Community project. Additional information about the NIFF Coalition and Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative can be found at