The Cleveland High Tunnel Initiative was started as a pilot project by NRCS in 2012 to provide an opportunity for Cleveland residents and organizations to receive funding for high tunnels over gardens.

USDA announces first-ever recipients of urban agriculture grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the selection of recipients for approximately $4.1 million in grants and cooperative agreements through its new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. Famicos Foundation in Cleveland was among the first-ever recipients of these grants and cooperative agreements, which will enhance urban agriculture efforts in their community.

“Ohio is certainly doing its part to support a sustainable food system including work being done in urban agriculture and community gardens,” said Terry Cosby, State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Ohio. “I look forward to seeing the innovations in urban and other emerging agricultural practices that result from these efforts.”

The Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (UAIP) Competitive Grants Program supports a wide range of activities through two grant types, which are Planning Projects and Implementation Projects. Activities include operating community gardens and nonprofit farms, increasing food production and access in economically distressed communities, providing job training and education, and developing business plans and zoning. Priority was given to projects located in or targeting an Opportunity Zone, which is a census tract designation for low-income communities.

USDA is awarding approximately $1.14 million for three Planning Projects and about $1.88 million for seven Implementation Projects. Famicos Foundation, which submitted their grant for community gardens, was one of seven recipients for Implementation Projects.

“The USDA grant was needed to catapult our existing gardening program,” said Erica Burnett, director of community building and engagement Famicos Foundation. “This victory comes after years of commitment to the community to connect healthy, locally grown produce to the community while educating and nurturing young minds. The Famicos staff and the staffs of both Michael R. White Elementary and Stonebrook Montessori schools are excited about what this opportunity means for the students, their families, and the whole community of Glenville.”

Through Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction (CCFWR) Projects, USDA is also investing approximately $1.09 million in 13 pilot projects that develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food waste reduction. Priority was given to projects that anticipate or demonstrate economic benefits, incorporate plans to make compost easily accessible to farmers, including community gardeners, integrate other food waste strategies, including food recovery efforts, and collaborate with multiple partners.

For a complete list of grant and cooperative agreement recipients and project summaries, visit farmers.gov/urban.

The Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production was established through the 2018 Farm Bill. It is led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and works in partnership with numerous USDA agencies that support urban agriculture. Its mission is to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural practices, including community composting and food waste reduction. More information is available at farmers.gov/urban. Additional resources that may be of interest to urban agriculture entities include AMS grants to improve domestic and international opportunities for U.S. growers and producers and FSA loans.

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