Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production News

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Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production News


  • U.S. Forest Service Urban & Community Forestry National Challenge Cost Share Grant Program is providing up to $500,000 for Urban and Community Forestry investments that address the National Ten Year Urban and Community Forestry Action Plan: Goal 5, Improve Urban and Community Forest Management, Maintenance and Stewardship. Application deadline: August 15, 2023.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program has up to $500 million available for fiscal year 2023. Administration priorities include Urban Agriculture, Climate Smart Agriculture and working with Underserved Farmers and Ranchers. Application deadline: August 18, 2023.
  • Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program (RFSI) will provide up to $420 million for states and territories to make competitive Infrastructure Grants subawards to expand aggregation, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, and distribution capacity and infrastructure for domestic food and farm businesses. States and territories may also use a limited portion of RFSI funds to conduct complementary supply chain activities that build state-level capacity in local and regional food systems development and support the success of Infrastructure Grant subaward recipients. Start Plan Due Date: August 23, 2023.
  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is offering the 1890 Institution Teaching, Research and Extension Capacity Building Grants Program. The 1890 CBG is intended to strengthen teaching, research and extension programs in the food and agricultural sciences by building the institutional capacities of the 1890 Land-Grant Institutions, including Tuskegee University, West Virginia State University, and Central State University. Application deadline: August 30, 2023.
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Challenge Programs is offering Climate Smart Humanities Organizations. The program offers matching funds for comprehensive organizational assessments that lead to strategic climate action and adaptation plans. Application Deadline: September 14, 2023.
  • The application period is now open for the Discrimination Financial Assistance Program, for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination in USDA farm lending programs prior to January 2021. Borrowers will have the option to apply for assistance online or through a paper-based form. Details about the program, including an application and e-filing portal, are available at 22007apply.gov. The website includes an English and Spanish language application that applicants can download or submit via the e-filing portal, information on how to obtain technical assistance in-person or virtually, and additional resources and details about the program. Applicants can also call the free call center at 1-800-721-0970 or visit one of several dozen brick-and-mortar offices the program has set up around the country. Locations are provided on the program website and vendors will update the local events schedule with more information as it becomes available. It is important to note that filing an application is FREE and does not require a lawyer. Application deadline: October 31, 2023.

Highlights from USDA

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Investments in Urban Agriculture

The Biden-Harris Administration announced a series of investments in urban agriculture that will increase market access and revenue streams for producers while strengthening the food system and giving consumers better access to locally grown foods and healthier choices. This includes but is not limited to:

  • 17 new Urban Service Centers where producers can meet face-to-face with Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service employees to discuss their vision and goals and learn ways USDA can help.
  • 10 new urban county committees that are a critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA and allows grassroot input and location administration of federal farm programs. This brings the total of urban county committees to 27.
  • Partnerships for outreach, guidance, and training to support offices.

What does this look like on the ground?  Check out these highlights from the St. Louis Urban Service Center and FSA County Committee Members!

St. Louis USC


  • Louis Urban Service Center Highlight: St. Louis Urban Service Center officially opened on January 17, 2023, and in a short six months, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has obligated over $170,000 in EQIP Act Now funding. The St. Louis Urban Service Center has hosted producer workshops to gather needs of the urban ag community in partnership with University of Missouri Extension. The staff also hosted workshops directed towards urban soil health, including hands on training in the field with Regional Soil Health Specialists. In addition, the St. Louis Urban Service Center is connecting local urban producers with NRCS Soil Scientists who are diligently working to update the Web Soil Survey with real time data of existing soils. The St. Louis Urban Service Center is actively working to address resource concerns in the urban space and making recommendations to update NRCS conservation practice standards and specifications to help serve producers no matter where they live.
  • FSA County Committee Spotlights: Nationwide, more than 7,700 dedicated members of the agricultural community serve on FSA county committees. The committees are made up of three to 11 members who serve three-year terms. Learn more about urban county committee members in the “Be the Link” series:
  • Josh Volk: The Neighborhood Farmer
  • Mallenia “Renee” Foster: A Community Commitment
  • Coy Poitier: A Part of the Conversation

OUAIP On the Road!

Washington Youth Garden, National Arboretum


  • Brian Guse and Sean Potts of the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (OUAIP) recently visited Friends of the National Arboretum’s Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (UAIP) project located at the Washington Youth Garden within the National Arboretum. FONA President Craven Rand, Project Lead Brianne Studer, and Grants Director Beatrice (Bea) Dermer led the tour of the garden, a highly developed space of about a quarter acre that houses a multitude of food crops and pollinator-friendly plants. UAIP funding will help expand the garden grounds which are currently hosting fig trees, pollinator plots, and sunflowers. The increase in space corresponds to an increase in food for distribution to schools within disadvantaged areas of Washington, D.C.
Indy Project


  • Meanwhile, Sharonté Williams of OUAIP visited the Flanner House of Indianapolis, a fiscal year 2021 Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production grant recipient. She was joined by NRCS Planning Team Leader Brandy Daggett, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Partnerships Jerod Chew, Flanner House Executive Director Brandon Cosby, Flanner House Director of Food Justice Candace Boyd, and Flanner House farm managers. As a part of Flanner Houses’ training and workforce development initiative, the idea was born to install two new greenhouses that the group toured. With the new greenhouses they will introduce hydroponics and grow microgreens for production. They also toured the two-acre farm which includes medicinal plants, carrots, sweet potatoes kale, sugar snap peas to name a few. Flanner Farms is able to provide an abundance of healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate produce for the community through Cleo’s Bodega Grocery & Cafe.

Fiscal Year 2023 Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant Program Awardees!

Farm to School


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is excited to announce it is awarding $10.7 million in Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grants to fund 103 projects across the country. These investments will help 1.2 million children from nearly 3,000 schools in 40 States and the territory of Guam eat tasty, nutritious local foods, while supporting farmers and producers in their communities. “Farm to school is a huge win-win for children, schools, farmers, producers, and communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “When schools have access to fresh, local food options with homegrown flavor, they can serve tasty menu items that kids are excited to eat, while supporting the local economy.”

U.S. Forest Service Urban Field Stations

Chicago Field Station


The USFS Urban Field Stations conduct and support local research on urban social-ecological systems. Explore the Field Station locations and check out the tools and resources available including i-Tree and the Stewardship Mapping Project.

USDA Employees Sharing Their Journey

USFS Interns


The U.S. Forest Service recently coordinated a trip for Resource Assistant Program interns to gain exposure to the diversity of career trajectories and professional opportunities that USDA has to offer. Leslie Glover, Program Manager for OUAIP had an opportunity to share his career journey with the group.

Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Federal Advisory Committee

In case you missed it, The Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee held a public meeting on August 1 to deliberate proposed recommendations for the USDA Secretary. Over the course of the three-hour virtual meeting the Committee discussed several topics including:

  • Surplus food recovery;
  • Compostable food packing standards;
  • Food scrap composting;
  • Innovative use of residential and commercial food waste;
  • Zoning;
  • Intergovernmental information sharing;
  • Access to capital;
  • Access to land;
  • Access to technical assistance; and
  • Urban soil health and safety.

View the meeting recording and materials on the Committee webpage. The public comment period will also be open until August 15, 2023. Visit the Federal Register Notice to provide formal written comments.

For general inquires contact UrbanAgricultureFederalAdvisoryCommittee@usda.gov.

People’s Garden Initiative

Join the People’s Garden movement of over 1,400 gardens today by registering at usda.gov/peoples-garden. In joining the network, your garden will be highlighted on the People’s Garden website and provided a sign to display in the garden. You will also be invited to network with gardens from across the country.

PG Webinar Series


  • The next segment of the People’s Garden free webinar series is titled “Climate-Smart Agriculture” on August 31 at 3 p.m. EDT. See examples of how gardens across the country thrive in challenging environmental conditions and learn how to manage unwanted species in our gardens. Register here and visit People’s Garden website to view past webinar recordings.

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