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Delaware State Conservationist, Kasey Taylor, visits with Matthew Williams about the successful expansion of his urban farm and discusses opportunities for additional conservation support.

Small/Urban Farming - Indiana

NRCS serves all agriculture – large to small, conventional to organic, rural to urban. As American agriculture continues to grow in new directions, NRCS conservation assistance is growing along with it.

Food insecurity is an everyday reality for many urban communities across the United States. About 23.5 million people live in communities lacking food access nationwide, and 15.8 million of children are food insecure, according to data from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS). Many low-income urban areas lack retail grocery stores and access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Convenience stores or fast food franchises provide the only food options, which are highly processed with low nutritional value.

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Building Healthy Communities

Urban farmers are addressing food access issues by growing healthy foods for their communities. Urban farms empower people to solve hunger and poverty issues within their community by changing the way people look at what and how they eat; providing jobs and skills training and beautifying and unifying neighborhoods. Many farms also teach citizens how to prepare fresh ingredients for healthy meals.

Conserving our Resources

Urban farmers practice conservation – they convert food waste into healthy soils by composting, minimize storm water runoff by capturing rainwater, save energy costs that would otherwise be used for long-distance transportation of food items, and create more green space in the city.

  
Growing in Size

Today, 15 percent of the world’s food is grown in urban areas according to ERS. With most of the world’s population residing in cities, this statistic will likely continue to increase. Urban agriculture is part of the rising local food movement aimed at reducing the distance food must travel from farm to table.

Volunteers from Habitat for Humanity, Home Depot, Antioch Baptist Church, active and retired military veterans, and members of USDA’s NRCS joined Director of Bunchology James Bunch to build a high tunnel in a food desert neighborhood of Waterloo, Iowa, July 29, 2022.
(USDA/FPAC photo by Preston Keres)

Underserved Communities

Historically underserved participants are eligible for advance payments to help offset costs related to purchasing materials or contracting through EQIP.  

Small/Urban Farming Conservation Practices

High Tunnels
Managing Weeds and Pests
Soil Health
Irrigation and Water Management
Pollinator Habitat
Wind Breaks
Energy Efficiency
Mulching
Organic vegetable farmer holding produce

Organic Farming

Organic farming is an ecologically-based system that relies on preventative practices for weed, insect and disease problems, uses nontoxic methods to manage problems if they arise, and improves the natural resources of the land, including soil and water quality.  NRCS can help organic producers develop a conservation plan that meets their goals, and can often help with financial assistance to implement elements of the plan.