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Agriculture and Tourism Grants

New economic initiatives continue in new partnerships to promote 2 of Pennsylvania’s biggest industries: Farming and Tourism. Duke Gastiger and his wife opened their farm to table restaurant, RE Cafe in 2019. Six months later, the Pandemic shut it down. The business now, about 60 percent of what it was, according to the Owner, who feels there’s been another Pandemic related result. Duke Gastiger saying: “I think it refocuses people’s desire to have healthier options and also to know where their food comes from.”

With that thought in mind, more restaurants, farms, agriculture related businesses in recent years are bringing in new business, new customers, and more tourism dollars. To help spur that business model, the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County, and the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, on Monday awarding funding Grants to 28 agriculture related operations. Greg Scott of the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County saying: “For some, this diversification is key to remaining economically viable. This new era of Agritourism creates new Customers and a new way to generate income from the land.”

At RE Cafe, the funding will go towards expansion of the outdoor back deck. The Restaurant is located on a farm, and those cooking in the kitchen here are also work the fields. Gastiger saying:” Its actually a requirement for our composers, our chefs have to work in the fields one day a week. It give them knowledge of how hard a job its is, but also gives them first hand knowledge of the food they grow.”

Gastiger a long time Centre County Businessman had a Bar and Restaurant in State College before moving out to the Country. Connectivity to the soil, networking and supporting the local farm community are top priorities. Gastiger saying: “The scary thing is, when we first opened Spats in 1987, there were about 1,400 small family farms in Centre County. Now there’s about 1,100. Its a tough business to be in.”

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