2017 Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative Recipients
Listed alphabetically by state
Sebastian County CD
Sebastian County CD will utilize grant-supported technical assistance to implement urban conservation practices – such as pollinator habitat and nutrient management systems – in a prototype community garden in one of Fort Smith’s most underserved neighborhoods.
The SCCD will also offer workshops on food production and conservation at the garden (which is centrally located between five elementary schools and a junior high school where 95 percent of the students receive free school meals) and intends to replicate the prototype at several more sites throughout Sebastian County.
Inland Empire RCD
Inland Empire is located about 45 miles east of Los Angeles and suffers from heavy urban sprawl, homelessness, crime, and stagnant wages. Members of the community supported agriculture (CSA) program at the Huerta del Valle (HDV) Community Garden are mostly low income individuals or families, and at least 20 percent of them use food stamps to purchase food through the program.
The IERCD will use its grant to host a CSA coordinator position at the HDV Community Garden. This employee will be responsible for sourcing produce from regional farmers and building CSA membership, as well as developing nutrition education programs and conservation workshops for farmers.
New Castle CD
The NCCD has been assisting Wilmington and New Castle County residents in overcoming obstacles to community gardening and urban agriculture, such as soil toxicity and land acquisition, through a micro-grant program since the 1990s.
Funds for this project will allow NCCD to hire an urban agriculture intern, who will work to lay the groundwork for a “Train the Trainer” educational program (made up of webinars, a day-long symposium, and free mobile workshops) and facilitate the development of a Cooperative Growers Group.
Fulton County SWCD
Through the Georgia Power Food Project, the FCSWCD will convert three, underutilized power easements – all within areas designated “food deserts” by the USDA – into thriving urban farms. The Proctor Creek Allotment is five acres located in northwest Atlanta; the Fairburn Heights Allotment is seven acres in northwest Atlanta and adjacent to Harper Archer Middle School; and the Pomona Park Allotment is three acres in southwest Atlanta.
The grant funds will support a program manager that will lead the conversion projects, including site preparation, design of the allotment garden plots and irrigation, and best management practice installation.
Johnson County SWCD
The Johnson County Poor Farm, established in 1855, provided a centralized self-sustaining agricultural community to care for the poor, physically disabled, or chronically mentally ill until the 1970s. Today, nearly all of the 160-acre farm is leased for row crop production.
With its grant, the JCSWCD will implement recommended conservation practices and drainage infrastructure on the farm, assist in coordinating soil tests, and conduct four on-farm soil health workshops. These efforts will help improve the soil quality and drainage at the Poor Farm, which will in turn help to increase on-site food production and feed low-income families. The Poor Farm will also come to serve as a model urban agriculture farm where the latest conservation techniques can be showcased and taught to county residents.
Douglas County CD
Located in northeast Kansas with a population of 92,763 people, Lawrence is the sixth-largest city in Kansas, and one of the fastest growing. In 2012, the City of Lawrence created the Common Ground community garden program with the aim to eradicate food deserts by (1) supporting residents with the greatest food access challenges and (2) providing production space for residents living in multi-unit and rental housing.
This grant will allow the DCCD and its partners to enhance and expand Common Ground with the development of a best management practices toolkit to support garden managers, and the construction of a demonstration high tunnel and education garden on the Douglas County Fairgrounds, immediately adjacent to underserved neighborhoods and an elementary school.
Prince George’s SCD
Prince George’s County is adjacent to Washington, D.C., and home to just over 900,000 residents. Although Prince George’s is the wealthiest majority-African American county in the country, it still struggles with food insecurity and high rates of chronic disease.
With its grant, the PGSCD will hire a soil and water conservationist to provide technical assistance to urban farmers throughout the county. This position will also develop a series of trainings for farmers and agricultural service providers and contribute content to an online resource center for urban farm start-ups.
In Genesee County – home to the City of Flint – conservation technical assistance services exist for large-scale agricultural producers or those using high tunnels for season extension, but not for small-scale urban growers and gardeners.
With its grant, Genesee CD will hire a staff member to provide technical assistance to smaller scale urban growers and backyard conservationists in the county. This new position will organize and hold three educational workshops for area gardeners (to cover soil health, production maximization/pest management, and water quality) and promote and participate in two farmers market events.
Upper Big Blue NRD
The City of York purchased 400 acres of farmland in 2008 – now called the York Wellfield – to provide quality drinking water to its residents. The UBBNRD will use its grant to launch Project GROW – which stands for Growing Rotational crops On Wellfields – to (1) restore water quality and soil health on the York Wellfield and (2) increase healthy food availability in the area by constructing a community garden complete with cover and rotational crops, a berry orchard, and a honey production epicenter (rife with pollinator habitat).
Nevada Tahoe CD
The NTCD will use its grant to perform a needs assessment to map the impediments to and opportunities for urban agriculture in South Tahoe and nearby Carson Valley. The district will also (1) install a four-season greenhouse adjacent to a school, a year-round non-profit, and an after-school program; (2) contribute to the development of trainings and workshops on community garden design and management; (3) and create an urban agriculture network for existing and future community gardens to share technical and financial resources.
Ocean County SCD
With its grant, OCSCD will establish a committee on urban agriculture to advise Lakewood Township on matters of sustainability and to assist in (1) enhancing existing, and implementing new, urban agricultural programs and community gardens and (2) coordinating community food harvesting and distribution.
OCSCD will also provide site assessments and soil testing on potential urban agriculture sites, facilitate community workshops on soil health, water conservation, and non-point source pollution, and with help from its partners, assemble a toolkit for urban gardeners.
With its partners, Ciudad SWCD will build urban agriculture technical assistance capacity in Bernalillo County – home to the City of Albuquerque – by (1) holding three sustainable agriculture workshops, (2) developing a guidebook on agricultural conservation easements, and (3) implementing a summer work experience program for high schoolers interested in pursuing careers in agriculture.
San Juan SWCD
With the launch of its Farm Farmington! Program, SJSWCD will provide program support to the many community agriculture initiatives currently operating in low-income and transitional housing facilities within the Four Corners region.
The program’s aim is to create and develop a food hub for the region by (1) providing conservation technical assistance to the existing New Beginnings Community Garden and three newer “growing gardens” that serve low-income populations, (2) improving communications and resource sharing within Farmington’s agricultural community, (3) compiling a “Farm Farmington!” guide to community agriculture, and (4) facilitating conservation workshops for urban agriculture residents and groups.
Colonial SWCD will work with the Williamsburg Community Growers group to create an interactive youth gardening experience. Students will have the option of three different courses – the urban farm track; environmental education track; or science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) track – which correspond with the school calendar. Produce raised by students in the urban farm track will be served in local school cafeterias or distributed to 25 families through a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm-share program.
Lord Fairfax SWCD
LFSWCD will design and install a community demonstration garden in Strasburg, Virginia, with the help of city youth, where it will host workshops on conservation best management practices, like farmscaping, composting, companion planting, and rainwater harvesting. The fresh food harvested from the garden will be delivered to local food pantries and sold at the area farmers market.
Cascadia CD and Team Naturaleza will develop bilingual educational and outreach materials and host workshops on composting, pollinator habitat, food safety, and more. The district will also expand a community garden and establish an educational workshop space next to the Women’s Resource Center of Wenatchee.
Grant CD will deliver compost from local livestock producers to eight retirement homes in the area for use in food plots. To accommodate seniors of varying levels of mobility, the district will create potted, raised-bed, and ground-level gardens at the retirement homes to maximize their use. The district will also create and disperse educational materials and organize educational events at the retirement homes on topics ranging from best management practices and food safety to nutrition.
With its grant, Kitsap CD will establish a community garden with two purposes: (1) to provide produce for the Central Kitsap Food Bank and (2) create community service opportunities for female and juvenile offenders. The district will also develop and host educational workshops on fertilizer, herbicide, and insecticide best management practices, as well as proper irrigation techniques, and will assist food bank patrons in creating their own grocery gardens.
Snohomish CD will provide technical support at Housing Hope’s community gardens to benefit homeless and low-income populations. The district will train homeowners and implement irrigation and drainage techniques, composting, and soil health practices, and will identify landowners to transition their lawns to produce garden landscapes. FFA students will receive hands-on training as they assist with the installation process.