The Prince George’s Soil Conservation District (PGSCD) in Maryland was awarded a 2021 Urban Agriculture Conservation (UAC) Grant through a partnership with the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to boost technical capacity nationwide.
PGSCD was one of 20 conservation districts across 14 states to receive funding. NACD and NRCS established the Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative in 2016 to help conservation districts and their partners provide much-needed technical assistance for community-oriented agricultural projects in both urban and rural contexts. Through this 2021 UAC grant, PGSCD has partnered with Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and ECO City Farms to launch an urban farm incubator at Watkins Regional Park.
In 2017, PGSCD received its first UAC Grant, which was used to help establish its Urban Farm Incubator Initiative. This initiative connects urban farmers to the land, infrastructure, training and other resources necessary to launch an urban farm enterprise that implements soil and water conservation practices to preserve and protect the county’s soil and water resources. The Prince George’s County Food Equity Council, University of Maryland Extension, Maryland Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS-MD) and Maryland Department of Agriculture pledged to provide additional in-kind support for this project through technical assistance and training.
“We are excited to receive our second NACD Urban Agricultural Conservation Grant. The first NACD UAC grant in 2018 was instrumental in building a successful urban ag conservation program in our Soil Conservation District,” said Steven E. Darcey-CPESC, PGSCD’s District Manager. “This second grant will enable us to partner with other like-minded stakeholders that wish to educate urban and peri-urban producers while promoting sound soil and water conservation stewardship.”
Other accomplishments from their first UAC Grant included 96 farm visits resulting in 12 Soil Conservation and Water Quality Plans; four USDA-EQIP contracts for high tunnels; 12 individuals signed on as new district cooperators; and two applications for the county’s urban ag property tax credit. The district developed an urban producer profile form, established farm plan guidelines, and standardized the process for developing those plans through a conservation plan checklist and resource inventory worksheet specific to urban agriculture.
To learn more about the UAC Grant program and its grantees, view NACD’s urban and community webpage.