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USDA Announces Recipients of Urban Agriculture Grants and Cooperative Agreements

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the selection of recipients for more than $6.6 million in grants and cooperative agreements through the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. These grants and cooperative agreements build on $4.1 million in projects funded in 2020.  

“As the People’s Department, USDA is committed to assisting all facets of agriculture, including operations in our cities,” USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Thomas L. Morgart said.

“These projects nourish communities with fresh, healthy food; teach generations the joy and fulfillment of farming and partnerships; and produce environmental benefits by reducing food waste and creating compost that can be used in a variety of farming operations,” USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting State Executive Director Nathan Wilson said.

Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Competitive Grants 

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.  

USDA is awarding $4.75 million for 10 Planning Projects and 11 Implementation Projects. One implementation project recipient is Connecticut’s Knox Parks Foundation. This project will expand participants’ growing space by repairing and upgrading four greenhouses for year-round use and work alongside participants to implement urban farming solutions that maximize the crop yield of smaller spaces

Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction Project 

Through Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction (CCFWR) Projects, USDA is investing approximately $1.92 million in 24 pilot projects to develop and implement strategies for municipal compost plans and food waste reduction plans. USDA prioritized 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. 

Three Connecticut projects were chosen under CCFWR

  • City of Stamford’s Public/Private Composting Program – The city will establish a unique private-public partnership with the Stamford Museum and Nature Center to operate and manage a composting machine that is capable of processing 500 lbs. of food waste, and turning it into useable compost, which will reduce the amount of garbage the city brings to landfills.
  • City of West Haven’s Regional Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction Project – The city will partner with the local Council of Governments and Center for Eco-Technology to train West Haven and regional school administrators from three participating urban schools and one commissary kitchen on how and why to separate compostable organic waste from the schools. The City will also retain a commercial collection contractor to provide collection containers and services.
  • Housatonic Resource Recovery Municipal Composting Initiative – This project will demonstrate that municipalities can create a closed loop sustainable composting system to manage food waste locally, reducing the carbon footprint of off-site disposal and contributing to the waste diversion goals of the state, increase access to compost for residential, community garden groups and local farmers without relying on synthetic fertilizers, and empower municipalities to use readily available compost for stormwater management and soil erosion.

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

USDA and Urban Agriculture  

The grants and cooperative agreements are part of a broad USDA investment in urban agriculture. Other efforts include: 

  • Establishing the Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture, which will be announced later this fall. 
  • Establishing Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees devoted exclusively to urban agriculture. FSA has established 11, and additional ones will be announced later this year. 
  • Investing $260,000 for risk management training and crop insurance education for historically underserved and urban producers through partnerships between the Risk Management Agency (RMA) and the University of Maryland, the University of Connecticut, and Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems. 

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

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit http://www.usda.gov