The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering up to $7.5 million in grant funding to support urban agriculture and other innovative food production projects. The Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production grant program will accept applications through March 27.
The competitive grant program is run through the USDA’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. It is open to farmers, gardeners, individuals, organizations, schools, and government officials that want to start or expand agriculture projects in urban areas and suburbs.
USDA Urban Agriculture Grants
Grants may cover various project expenses related to food access, education, startup costs, or development of new policies related to urban production. For example, grants could cover the cost of a new community garden or cover job training and education to increase food access in economically distressed communities.
To qualify for funding, grant proposals must fall into one of two categories: Planning Projects and Implementation Projects. Here’s an explanation of each type.
Planning Projects cover costs related to starting or expanding new urban agriculture projects. Applicants may use funds to cover startup costs, studies, or new project development plans in urban or suburban communities.
For example, the Texas Coalition of Rural Landowners received a Planning Projects grant in 2022. Grant funds covered the cost of a feasibility study and development of a new business plan. The organization’s project established a cooperative for small farms and agriculture producers to more effectively provide products to low food access markets throughout Harris County, Texas.
Implementation Projects provide funds to accelerate existing urban, indoor, and innovative agriculture projects. This may include investing in new technologies, accelerating hiring and training, or supporting new infrastructure needs to reach additional consumers.
For example, the Moka Urban Agriculture Initiative received this type of grant in 2022. The organization was already serving urban farmers in Missouri prior to the grant. But it used funds to increase its reach, establish more outdoor spaces for food production, and provide more economic opportunities for urban agriculture producers.
About the Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Grants
The USDA’s OUAIP was established by the 2018 Farm Bill. The office collaborates with other USDA agencies to support urban agriculture and innovative production through various programs and grant opportunities. The UAIP Grant Program has provided funding to agriculture producers, nonprofits, and government entities serving this mission since 2020.
This round of funding is just one part of a broader USDA investment in innovative, urban agriculture. Other initiatives include the creation of a Federal Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production, reopening the People’s Garden Initiative to support gardens around the country and teach sustainable growing techniques, and providing technical and financial assistance.
How to Apply for Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Grants
Those interested in applying for UAIP grants can use the federal government’s online grant portal, Grants.gov. The deadline to submit an application is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 27.
The USDA also offers a pre-recorded webinar for those interested in learning more about the program. The webinar goes over the types of project that are eligible, what criteria you need to meet, and how to submit an application in more detail. You can go to view this content online any time before the application deadline.
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This article, “USDA Announces Business Grants for Urban Agriculture” was first published on Small Business Trends