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2019 Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Recipients

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2019 Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative Recipients
Listed alphabetically by state

Arizona


Winkelman NRCD

Cultivating Common Ground

The town of Oracle, Ariz., recently established the Oracle Community Learning Garden (OCLG). The OCLG will serve as the hub and organizing entity for three proposed projects, two of which have potential as businesses, eventually contributing to sustainability. The Winkelman Natural Resource Conservation District will support hoop house construction and a nursery for native plants suitable for the environment that can be used for restoration and training. The district will collect food waste from residents to support a vermicomposting program, using resulting vermicompost as a soil amendment at OCLG. In addition, the district will develop a design and management plan for the garden and its surroundings to eliminate erosion, catch water, and show best irrigation practices. Local residents will be given support in applying the concepts to their own properties, and the district will partner with local organizations who will apply concepts to their landscapes to increase the visibility of water conservation techniques.

Arkansas


Crawford County CD

The Crawford County Conservation District in Arkansas will focus on several key projects. Some schools in the county have begun school gardens and generating community support to sustain them; the district will help expand them and implement conservation practices. In Alma, through the donation of 51 acres, a new city park is being created where the district will pursue an edible landscape, food forest and pollinator gardens. To help solve run-off issues affecting a city park in Mulberry, an irrigation system will be designed for large community garden managed by the local high school and rain garden workshops will be offered to the community.

California


Alameda County RCD

The Alameda County Resource Conservation District in California contains within its boundaries numerous urban and peri-urban farms in need of technical assistance and training. This project will address three primary needs: the provision of expanded, site-specific technical assistance including soil health and water quality; workshops on topics identified as critical to the success of natural resource conservation on urban farms; and district staff training and capacity building on topics of particular relevance to urban producers.

San Mateo RCD

Supporting Conservation Practices and Building an Urban Farming Movement in Urban San Mateo County

Urban farms, including community gardens, are increasing across the urbanized areas of San Mateo County in California. Many of the gardens support low-income residents, increasing access to fresh, local produce, or provide educational opportunities, building understanding of the local food system. The San Mateo County Resource Conservation District will build expertise in urban agriculture; provide urban agriculture technical assistance; implement recommended conservation practices coupled with educational signage; develop resources to support urban agriculture; and offer educational events to support the urban farming movement in the county.

Idaho


Ada SWCD

Expanding Urban Agricultural Education in the Treasure Valley

The community support for local agriculture is strong within the region. Smaller urban farms are increasing in numbers to supply local farmers markets, restaurants and cooperative grocery stores. Many of these urban farms are managed by younger farmers who were not raised with an agricultural background and often rely on books, farm education programs outside of the state or learning as they go. The Ada Soil and Water Conservation District in Boise, Idaho, will establish an urban agriculture educational program. It will feature farm tours, workshops and hands-on experiences to train new farmers and help established operations expand into markets that appeal to the increasing urban population and are suited for small acreage production. This program will offer an opportunity for farmers to network and collaborate.

Gooding SCD

Gooding Community Garden, Educating Communities on Conservation Practices and Assisting Community Members Who Suffer Food Insecurity

The Gooding Community Garden project, sponsored by the Gooding Soil Conservation District in south-central Idaho, aims to revitalize a community garden area that has been under-utilized for several years due to the lack of resources. The project will demonstrate, educate, and promote conservation practices such as cover crops, pollinator habitat using adapted species, tree planting and care, composting and vermicomposting, low water demand and xeriscaping, storm water containment and drainage, urban water conservation practices and water source protection. The Gooding Community Garden will offer vegetable gardening plots not only to the public, but to partner organizations that will grow produce for in-need individuals and community help organizations.

Kootenai-Shoshone SWCD

Kootenai Environmental Alliance Gathering Garden Enhancement and Expansion Project 2019

The Gathering Garden in Kootenai County, Idaho, is a model urban agriculture teaching farm/garden open to the public annually, supporting learning opportunities for area K-12 and university level students as well as community, national and international organizations. In addition, produce from the Gathering Garden is cleaned and packaged for distribution to low income families and distributed via Coeur d’Alene Community Action Partnership Food Bank. The district will provide urban gardening technical assistance to community members, research modern conservation techniques, and facilitate free workshops for the public. It will also facilitate three free community workshops focusing on proper urban garden irrigation techniques, urban composting and urban garden seed harvest and storage techniques.

Massachusetts


Worcester County CD

Next Level Soil Health Initiative

The Worcester County Conservation District, located in western Massachusetts, will expand their Healthy Soils Initiative into urban areas by providing on-the-ground technical assistance and educational information specifically intended for urban farmers, community gardens and backyard gardeners. Through the project, the district will provide access to the tools and research used by production agriculture  adapted to help make healthy soil choices.

Michigan


Marquette County CD

Urban Agriculture Technical Assistance and Education in Marquette County

New land use ordinances in Marquette County in Michigan’s northern peninsula provide residents with the opportunity to raise small livestock including bees, chickens and rabbits and allows the construction of raised garden beds and season extension structures such as hoop and greenhouses. The Marquette County Conservation District and its project partners will host four workshops in the county’s two largest cities, Marquette and Ishpeming. The workshops will be educational, interactive, and feature a take-home item to incentivize participants to implement urban agriculture practices in their own yards and community garden spaces.

Minnesota


North St. Louis SWCD

Urban Agriculture on the Iron Range

This St. Louis Soil and Water Conservation District project in the Iron Range of northeastern Minnesota will build and enhance outdoor raised garden beds, create pollinator gardens, establish an urban orchard, and practice rainwater harvesting. An education component, delivered through the 4-H program, will reach K-12 youth. Additionally, workshops for the general community will showcase the work of students and teach community members about composting, rainwater harvesting, water quality and pollinator habitat.

New Hampshire


Cheshire County CD

Growing Urban Farming Opportunities in New Hampshire

The Cheshire County Conservation District in New Hampshire will offer technical assistance, education and equipment to urban farmers and gardeners for growing their production capacity while conserving natural resources such as soil health, water quality and pollinator habitat. This will be done through a workshop series, one‐on‐one support, demonstration sites, a tool-lending library and seed bank. The project is expected to also build strong partnerships that foster community engagement.

Merrimack County CD

Merrimack River Watershed Urban Conservation Initiative

The goal of the Merrimack County Conservation District program in New Hampshire is to provide technical assistance to agricultural producers and municipalities on urban conservation strategies, local foods and water quality along with a series of events to educate students and the public. The project will include technical assistance for school and community gardens, local foods promotion events, technical assistance to farmers along the Merrimack River Watershed to implement nutrient management and IPM programs, and a low-input garden workshop series. Throughout the series of events, the district will promote the importance and availability of local food while increasing the number of farmers markets in the affected areas.

New Mexico


Doña Ana SWCD

Las Cruces Demonstration Farm 

The Doña Ana County Soil and Water Conservation District in New Mexico will provide technical assistance and support toward the establishment of an urban agriculture demonstration plot, developing an empty lot in a food desert in the City of Las Cruces or its periphery. Partnering with a local food center and community farm organization, this project will increase the viability of numerous urban agriculture projects in Las Cruces in addition to the demonstration plot. In turn, the district will build its own capacity to engage in urban agriculture projects for the benefit of human wellness, understanding the inextricable link between caring for our natural resources, environmental conservation and the food system.

New York


Cortland County SWCD

Fresh Connections: Promoting Urban Agriculture and Natural Resource Conservation

The Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District in New York will launch a new initiative that will enable the district to develop materials promoting urban agriculture conservation practices, improve and promote the district’s technical assistance capacity and integrate conservation and urban food production through a workshop series and related partnership activities. The district will also establish a program to coordinate gleaning at a local farm for two food-providing nonprofits.

Ohio


Hamilton County SWCD

Bloom and Grow

The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District in Ohio will partner with the Head Start Program in establishing gardens to enhance students’ understanding of their natural environment. A curriculum correlator will be designed, two videos will be created to instruct teachers how to incorporate urban gardening into their curriculum, a monthly newsletter will be sent to all teachers and parents highlighting activities that can be done at home, and a special education program will focus on families.

Pennsylvania


Lehigh County CD

Conservation 101: Urban Agriculture Field Experience Education Program

The Lehigh County Conservation District in Pennsylvania will expand its pilot urban agriculture field experience education program in Allentown. Through program implementation, urban, school-aged youth will be provided with training for 21st century green-collar jobs, increased access to healthy foods, and STEM education – all of which are to be shared with the broader community. Equipping students with critical thinking skills through participation in this field experience curricula ensures they will be outfitted with experience to address and predict the area’s current and future conservation needs.

Rhode Island


Northern Rhode Island CD

Northern Rhode Island Urban Growers Leadership Program

In partnership with leading urban farming and gardening organizations in the state, the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District will create a year-long Urban Growers Leadership Program. The district will provide technical assistance to support a new class of skilled urban growing leaders and trainers in Northern Rhode Island through a series of “Train the Trainer” workshops and long-term planning guidance to bring more community members into the local urban farming movement and ensure growing spaces are active and community-managed.

Southern Rhode Island CD

Westerly Community Gardens and Green Streets

The Southern Rhode Island Conservation District will provide technical assistance to citizens and groups engaged in urban agriculture in their backyards and at community green spaces in Westerly in support of the town’s conservation goals. The district will work with partners to provide education and outreach to the general public and local land use decision-makers about the benefits of urban agriculture, the use of conservation practices and the various types of assistance available via conservation districts and NRCS. Demonstration sites and interpretive signs will be developed to showcase conservation practices. An educational video will be developed for each site and linked to an interpretive walking app of downtown.

Washington


Okanogan CD

Seeds to Sow, Kids to Grow: Enhancing School Gardens in Okanogan County

The Okanogan Conservation District in the state of Washington will provide leadership and technical assistance to two schools interested in developing garden education programs for their students. A coordinated effort will help develop the resources of time, money and expertise needed to support these programs. The district will lead this effort toward two outcomes: creating sustainable garden program plans at both schools and initiating a work group of community partners to guide project tasks and support the garden programs.

Palouse-Rock Lake CD

Endicott, Wash., Community Garden

Located in a dryland agricultural oasis, the town of Endicott, Wash., lacks ready access to healthy produce and opportunities for technical assistance. The Palouse-Rock Lake Conservation District will provide an urban food-producing space that will also serve as a forum for technical assistance from the district and collaborating partners. In addition to establishing a community garden, the district will sponsor individuals in the Master Gardeners Program, create a bimonthly podcast and conduct urban agriculture conservation workshops/demonstrations.


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