It’s harvest season, perfect timing for Lebensfreude LLC, the farmland firm on which Chester Township’s famous Alstede Farms operates, to reap a $15,000 Morris County Small Business Grant.
Morris County Commissioner Deputy Director John Krickus delivered the check to Kurt and Mary Alstede after touring the Alstede Market in Chester Township and visiting the neighboring property housing Lebensfreude LLC, which translates into: “joy of living.” The program, launched with $10 million on Valentine’s Day, is designed to help small local businesses still being impacted by the pandemic.
“This grant is very helpful. It’s been over two years since (the pandemic start) and people forget, we were sweating bullets trying to figure out every week what we would do,” said Kurt Alstede, noting farming operations throughout New Jersey were hit with strict operating guidelines by the Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Protection.
Farmers had to cooperate for months under restrictions that ranged from requiring farm workers to wear protective masks even while working in the fields, to distancing guidelines that required farmers to find alternative housing arrangements for employees who live on site.
“It certainly must be noted that the Alstede family did everything to keep their people working and retained their staff throughout the height of the pandemic and afterwards,” said Commissioner Krickus as he visited the property.
To date, the Commissioners have approved 677 applications filed by small businesses and nonprofit organizations to receive grants of up to $15,000. The Commissioners dedicated $10 million and designed the grants to assist small businesses and nonprofits with pandemic related expenses incurred after March 3, 2021, including rent and mortgages payments.
The Morris County Small Business Grant Program has been a unique use of federal funds issued to the county through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was designed to offer pandemic-related aid.
Federal guidelines covering the grant program will determine exactly which expenses qualify for coverage and which applications may be approved. The grants are capped at $15,000 per applicant. However, business owners and nonprofits are encouraged to submit applications that include all costs they believe may qualify for the grant, even if the total amount of a single claim exceeds $15,000.
A final review may determine that some costs submitted for consideration are not covered under the program guidelines. However, by submitting all expenses that may qualify, applicants increase the possibility of getting the maximum amount of grant dollars possible.