HARRISBURG (January 22, 2020) – Two projects in Chester County were awarded $1.55 million in total state funding to support mushroom agriculture and dairy funding, state Senator Andy Dinniman announced today.

“Chester County has a rich agricultural heritage and farming remains the top industry in Pennsylvania,” Dinniman, who serves on the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said. “This funding will go a long way in helping farms in our region – large and small – expand their operations to bring more fresh, locally-grown and locally-crafted products to consumers both near and far.”

The funds, approved by the Commonwealth Finance Authority, are as follows:

$1.5 million for the Chester County Economic Development Council on behalf of South Mill Champs, a large mushrooming farming operation, for the extension of a natural gas pipeline in Elk Township. The 3-mile extension will support South Mill’s $115 million expansion project and the development of a 900,000 square-foot-building on 134 acres. The expansion will allow South Mill to create 500 new jobs and grow an additional 70 million pounds of mushrooms. The new site, previously used for growing hay and small plot farming, is planned to include spawn development, mushroom growing, processing, packaging, and logistics.

The natural gas extension will also provide access to other small businesses and commercial sites in the area including a broadcasting station, a custom furniture crafting company and a beauty salon. In the future, South Mill also intends to develop residential properties to support employee housing needs, which will be able to tap into the pipeline.

The project is being funded by the Pipeline Investment Program. The total cost of the extensions, meter station, permitting and materials, engineering costs and administrative fees is more than $4.5 million. South Mill Champs will contribute more than $3 million in funds. Operating the U.S. and Canada, South Mill Champs produced 110 million pounds of mushrooms annually.

$50,000 for True North Farmstead LLC to assist with the construction of a value-added facility for pasteurization and cheese-making at their sheep farm in East Bradford. True North, a farm consisting of a small flock of East Friesian ewes, will utilize the grant funding to renovate the 10’ x 18’ tack room of their existing barn. This will allow the farm to produce artisan cheese for sale at local farmers’ markets, through CSAs and at events held on site. Renovations include concrete flooring, drainage, HVAC, electrical and plumbing upgrades. The project also calls for the purchase and installation of a complete pasteurization and processing system including a 15-gallon vat pasteurizer, digital indicating thermometers, chart recorder, chiller, packaging system and more.

The project is funded by the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program at a total cost of $59,955, True North will provide $9,995 in matching funds.