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USDA announces grants for urban ag & innovative production

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the availability of up to $4 million for grants to support the development of urban agriculture and innovative production projects. USDA’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production is accepting proposals for planning and innovation projects, and these grants are part of USDA’s broader efforts to support urban agriculture.

“With 80 percent of the U.S. population living in or near urban centers, urban agriculture can make a significant positive impact on the health and well-being of many individuals,” said Leslie Glover II, the new program manager for the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. “Empowering communities to grow local, healthy food goes a long way towards solving issues of food justice and access.”

There are two categories under the Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (UAIP) competitive grant opportunity: Planning Projects and Implementation Projects.

Planning Projects

Planning projects initiate or expand efforts of farmers, gardeners, citizens, government officials, schools, and other stakeholders in urban and suburban areas. Projects may target areas of food access, education, business and start-up costs for new farmers, urban agroforestry or food forests, and development of policies related to zoning and other needs of urban production.

This is the second year USDA offered this grant opportunity. Examples of previously-selected planning projects include:

  • The City of New Haven, Connecticut is developing the first New Haven Urban Agriculture Master Plan. The plan will be used to access land and opportunities to increase the production and sale of locally grown foods, build community, improve public health and well-being, and provide economic opportunity, particularly in areas with vacant land and limited food access.
  • California’s Center for Land-Based Learning is producing a comprehensive urban agriculture assessment of West Sacramento, mapping and documenting current activities, identifying opportunities for growth, and making recommendations to bolster the layers of positive impact urban agriculture has on communities.

Implementation Projects

Implementation projects accelerate existing and emerging models of urban, indoor, and other agricultural practices that serve multiple farmers. Projects will improve local food access and collaborate with partner organizations, and may support infrastructure needs, emerging technologies, educational endeavors, and urban farming policy implementation.

Examples of previously-selected implementation projects include:

  • Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light is improving access to local food by helping a network of urban gardeners and farmers build infrastructure and become self-sustainable. The organization is educating the community on the environmental benefits of local food and the nutritional value of plant-rich diets, mentoring youth in urban agricultural occupations, and engaging more people in local, organic food production.
  • Atlanta’s The Greenleaf Foundation is using the Greenleaf Community Farm as a hub for connecting and supporting entrepreneurial food projects and closing the food system gap in Council District 5. The project includes a community farm, a payflex farm stand, and a community gathering space to connect and educate residents. It will also expand the Edible Neighborhoods program to provide equitable access to fresh produce, educate residents on edible landscaping, and serve as an entry point into the food system.

Webinar

A pre-recorded webinar will provide an overview of the grants’ purpose, project types, eligibility, and basic requirements for submitting an application. The webinar will be posted here.

USDA will accept applications on Grants.gov until July 30, 2021.

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