USDA invests in 52 urban agriculture projects across U.S. in ’22
In fall of 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an investment in 52 urban agriculture projects across the United States. The government entity invested a total of $14.2 million to the projects, allowing the recipients of these monies to expand their reach and surpass barriers in access that would have previously hindered them from aiding the populations they services.
Recipients awarded were intentionally selected for efforts that support underserved communities such as those with low access to nutritious food, foster communities, community education on agriculture in urban settings, and expanding green spaces in densely populated cities.
“This competitive grant program has already had tremendous impacts for communities across the country, and we look forward to partnering with local organizations to support agriculture in urban landscape while also empowering local communities to provide fresh, healthy foods,” shared Robert Bonnie, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation.
Through USDA’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production (UAIP) and funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, the grant has been sustained and has actively awarded projects yearly. Projects include establishing urban agriculture curricula in urban public school programs and creating collaborative community garden plots for people with limited access to spaces to grow nutritious foods.
UAIP grants are divided into two categories: Planning projects and implementation projects.
Planning projects pertain to the expansion or initiation efforts for farmers, gardeners, citizens, officials, schools, and other stakeholders in urban areas looking to target food access, education, or start-up costs to new farms or businesses.
Implementation projects advance already existing urban, indoor, or agriculturally related projects that serve multiple farmers. Projects in this category can also pertain to the same initiatives as the planning projects, but their scope is much broader; supporting projects in areas of emerging technologies, educational endeavors for the area, and urban farming policy implementation efforts.
When the UAIP grants began, the USDA awarded the Association of Africans Living in Vermont (AALV) in support of their urban agricultural project New Farms for New Americans: Improving Lands, Improving Lives. This project would be considered an implementation project, as AALV had already been an existing urban agriculture program with a desire to build upon its existing infrastructure. AALV currently provides 90 garden plots to 80 households on 7 acres of leased land in Burlington, California. The funds from the UAIP grant bolsters this project, providing funding for the program to implement a 28-week agriculture class to the local community.
In partnership with the Vermont Community Garden Network, AALV anticipates reaching over 300 community members from five diverse ethnic communities speaking close to seven different languages. The program also connects the Natural Resources Conservation Service of Vermont to learn alongside participants, growing in cultural and linguistic considerations and improvement in meeting folks from various demographics where they are when serving them.
UAIP grants for urban agriculture projects align with the Biden administration’s advances toward equity for Black and brown communities across the country. Assisting Black landowners in resolving title issues, relief for Black, brown and Native American Farmers, and establishing nutritious food systems are many of the dozens of initiatives that specifically target urban communities. Urban agriculture projects funded by UAIP grants will touch and create a positive systemic impact to our Black and brown communities and agricultural communities.
The current 2022 UAIP grant-supported projects are essential to the progression of a nutritious and sustainable food system and healthy community members. Use the link provided above to view the states and territories whose projects were awarded, along with the projects supported.
Bre Holbert is a past National FFA President and studied agriculture science and education at California State-Chico. “Two ears to listen is better than one mouth to speak. Two ears allow us to affirm more people, rather than letting our mouth loose to damage people’s story by speaking on behalf of others.”