September 24, 2023

A grant will help Johnston farmers market their specialty crops like blueberries. Contirbuted photo

SMITHFIELD — The Johnston County Tourism Authority has received a second grant to continue the marketing efforts of JoCo Grows Agriculture.

Donna Bailey-Taylor, head of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau, submitted an application for an N.C. Specialty Crops Block Grant. Her application, titled “JoCo Grows Specialty Crops,” won $149,315.

The money will support efforts to market and spread awareness of the importance of agriculture in Johnston County. 

“The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program aims to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the marketplace,” Bailey-Taylor said. “And with these grant funds, our focus is to help our Johnston County farmers sell more, grow more, market more and create unique on-farm experiences.”

Over the next two years, the Visitors Bureau will work Johnston County Cooperative Extension and the JoCo Grows Agriculture Steering Committee to spend the grant dollars.

Specifically, the aim is to increase consumption and access to specialty crops through marketing, education and expanding on-farm experiences via a partnership with People First Tourism, or P1t. 

P1t will help farmers create, promote and sell on-farm classes, workshops, tours and events. For more information and for tickets for the first round of on-farm events, go to

“The Visitors Bureau has a long history of promoting agritourism in the county and working with the Johnston County Cooperative Extension Office, and we are excited to launch the many projects in the Specialty Crop Block Grant,” Bailey-Taylor said. 

Last October, Nicole Youngblood joined Johnston County Cooperative Extension as an agriculture agent focusing on marketing and communications. 

“We are so thankful to the N.C. Specialty Crop Block Grant for their support of the JoCo Grows Agriculture initiative,” said Bryant Spivey, the county’s Extension director. “This effort grew out of recommendations from our Johnston County Extension Advisory Council as a way to connect the growing population of our county to local farms and agribusiness.”

Follow JoCo Grows Agriculture at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture administers the Specialty Crops Block Grant program, which gets its funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *