USDA Program Benefits Immigrant Farmers
Bangor, Maine - May 31, 2011 -- Cultivating Community's New American Sustainable Agriculture Project (NASAP) will spend the next three years working closely with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help implement conservation practices that will help to protect one of the farms leased by the organization while increasing the vegetable based production the program is based around.
The mission of Cultivating Community is to empower local communities by creating access to fresh food, work with youth leaders, train new American farmers, and promote social and environmental justice all through farming. The purpose of NASAP is to assist immigrant and refugee farmers to build successful farm businesses that are consistent with their culture, lifestyle aspirations, and individual goals, by providing classroom and field-based trainings. It is these trainings, in combination with the newly awarded NRCS contracts that will provide technical and financial assistance, that Cultivating Community is excited to focus on key conservation practices on 30 acres of protected farm land at Packard-Littlefield Farm in Lisbon.
The Androscoggin county immigrant farmers recently signed 12 individual contracts with NRCS that will provide them financial assistance for five conservation practices, enabling them to produce sustainable crops while conserving natural resources. The practices are funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a program that offers financial and technical assistance to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land. The conservation practices that will be implemented by the farmers are:
crop rotation to improve soil health and provide crop benefits over the length of the rotation;
cover crops for season protection against soil loss and weed suppression;
mulching for water conservation, weed suppression and nematode management;
integrated pest management to manage weeds, insects and diseases that directly or indirectly cause damage; and,
micro irrigation with pressure regulating emitters producing an irrigation efficiency of 90 percent.
"Working with Cultivating Community has been a rewarding challenge," stated Lance Gorham, District Conservationist with the USDA NRCS in the Lewiston office. "This collaboration will help introduce a foundation of sound and sustainable agricultural practices."
Cultivating Community also has an EQIP contract through NRCS for the same five conservation practices. They have a desire to improve the soil health of the farmland they are using while managing their crops to produce a more sustainable level of quality and nutrition in their vegetables. The EQIP contracts signed by Cultivating Community and the 12 immigrant farmers total $110,000. In addition to feeding their families, the produce will be disbursed to local families and sold at farmers markets.
In 2005 Packard-Littlefield Farm, the farm from which Cultivating Community is leasing land, was protected forever from development using funding from the Land for Maine's Future Program and the NRCS Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.
Since 1935, NRCS has provided leadership in a partnership effort to help America's private land owners and managers conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources. NRCS employees provide technical assistance based on sound science and that is suited to a customer's specific needs, and provides financial assistance for many conservation activities.
For more information about NRCS and its programs go towww.me.nrcs.usda.gov or contact your nearest USDA Service Center, listed online at http://offices.usda.gov or in the telephone book under United States Government, Agriculture Department.
National Environmental Quality Incentives Program Website
Maine Environmental Quality Incentives Program Website
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