RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded more than $500,000 in grant funding to promote specialty crops and increase economic development in Virginia.

The 10 projects to receive grant money include one to expand the use of mason bees as pollinators and another to research ways to develop new maple syrup production capacity.

Specialty crops expected to benefit from the grants include broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, honey, tree fruits, melons and strawberries.

Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry.

The project awards resulted from a competitive grant process established by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.