Ranch expansion seeks
to strengthen local food chain
A rural Marion rancher is applying for a grant to expand his operation to include on-farm processing, cold storage, and delivery to local food stores.
David Loewen, owner of the 25.9 Happy D Ranch on Nighthawk Rd. north of US-56, asked county commissioners Monday to sign off on his application for a state Department of Agriculture grant intended to build resilient food systems.
Loewen raises and markets beef and eggs but wants to expand into local produce production.
He is building a 4,550-square-foot greenhouse that he expects to use mostly to grow tomatoes and peppers by the summer of 2025.
Loewen, who could not be reached for comment, filed a letter with commissioners that said he would use grant money to purchase and install an on-farm cold storage unit; a small washing and packaging station; and a small, refrigerated trailer for packaging, storage, and delivery to local grocers.
“This project, if funded, will add to the resilience of the local food supply system for Marion County, Kansas, by shortening and strengthening the supply chain for year-round fresh market produce, adding flexibility to the harvest-processing-delivery timeline,” Loewen wrote.
Loewen said he plans to pursue his plan regardless of whether he gets grant money, but grant money would be “an enormous boost” to his start-up process.
Loewen, a county native, has a master’s degree in horticulture from Kansas State.