WASHINGTON, June 12, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is seeking applications from cooperatives to provide technical assistance to small, socially disadvantaged agricultural producers in rural areas. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“These grants will jump start small business hiring and help producers in areas facing economic challenges get the tools they need to succeed,” Vilsack said. “Small businesses are the engines of job growth and innovation in America.”
“Wouldn’t it be great if we had a community orchard?” That question posed by Aviva Furman to her neighbor, Narcissa Nelson, was the beginning of the Community Orchard of West Seattle (COWS). This 1/8 acre demonstration garden showcases what a bit of networking, volunteerism and community support can achieve.
For newcomers to the orchard, the grass alongside its edge is a reminder of what the area used to be – a strip of grass that had to be mowed every year. The challenge initially for the organization was finding a site as the grant money from the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods and support from key stakeholders was there, says Nelson. Without a site, “we were concerned with time and missing the planting opportunity of spring and the possibility of having to forfeit the grant money.”
News Release – WASHINGTON, April 4, 2013 – Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the award of $5.3 million in Conservation Innovation Grants to develop approaches and technology that will help producers adapt to extreme climate changes that cause drought. These grants will fund projects benefiting several states that were significantly impacted by last year’s drought. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
Growing organic food in the desert is no easy task. But Marilyn Yamamoto, who cultivates several acres of land a short drive from the famed Los Vegas Strip, has transformed her acreage into a test garden to help gardeners in the area determine the most efficient plants to grow on their properties so as to provide quality healthy food for their families.
Yamamoto says the small-scale growing operation known as Cowboy Trail Farm, which she operates as nonprofit under the name ‘Organic Edibles LV, inc’, is a labor of love.
Yamamoto, a Master Gardener, says she first began to experiment with desert cultivation techniques a few years ago, when her organization received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She used the funds to acquire two hoop houses.
Since 2005, Cultivate Kansas City (Kansas City, Kan.), formally known as the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture, has helped farmers manage urban farms. The organization started small and has steadily grown over the past eight years. Cultivate KC now manages two farms, and helps support multiple urban farmers and gardeners.
I recently spoke with Ami Freeberg, community outreach coordinator at Cultivate Kansas City, about the organization. Freeberg discussed how Cultivate KC has evolved and how the organization continues to help urban farmers thrive.
From Gardener to Organic Grower, New Jersey Farmer Finds Sustainability in Embracing the Local CommunityJanuary 8, 2013 | Hana Lurie
Al Esposito of Poplar Wood Farm does it all: from growing and selling organic produce and cut flowers to garden landscaping, as well as raising free-range chickens and goats. As if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, Al is currently the President of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey, leading the non-profit organization with a goal to make healthy food an abundant possibility.
I recently spoke with Al to learn more about what inspired him to become a farmer, his involvement in NOFA and the future goals of his farm.
News Release – CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Farm Aid announced that 67 family farm and rural service organizations received $532,300 from its grant program during 2012. These organizations work to strengthen family farm agriculture nationwide.
“These grants empower grassroots organizations to put new farmers on the land and amplify the voices of family farmers,” said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. “Farm Aid funds create opportunities for all of us who seek good, healthful food, and stronger economies and communities across America.”
CLEVELAND, Sept. 21, 2012 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced over $9 million in grants to organizations across 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to initiatives that bolster the connection between agricultural producers and their consumers while improving access to healthy food and strengthening local economies. Merrigan made the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) awards announcement while speaking at the Project for Public Spaces Annual Public Market Conference.
Making Most of Vacant Building, Urban Farming Org Hopes to Create Viable Indoor Food Production ModelSeptember 21, 2012 | Missy Smith
With the increasing rise in popularity of the local food movement in cities across the country, many people are getting creative about the spaces they use in order to bring fresh food to urban communities. Rooftop and community gardens have become major trends in recent years, but some people are thinking beyond outdoor spaces to include buildings that might otherwise continue to sit vacant.
FoodChain is one such organization that is thinking outside of the box, or garden plot, bringing an educational and demonstration facility—that will be teaching aquaponics, food processing and more—to the diverse downtown community of Lexington, Ky. The organization makes its home in the former Rainbo Bread Factory building, which operated downtown as early as the late 1800s and stayed in business for about 100 years.
News Release – UC Davis is one of six recipients nationwide, and the only one in California, to receive a $1 million award in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration’s 2012 i6 Challenge Grant competition. The university will use the grant to establish the Clean AgTech Innovation Center.
Reps. Doris Matsui and Mike Thompson, whose districts take in parts of UC Davis, announced the grant on Sept. 13.
As entrepreneurs, one of our early challenges is finding funding faster than we’re burning through our savings; it’s a choke point that’s so common that it’s referred to as “the Valley of Death”. This realization often comes at the worst possible time – when you’re equally busy trying to figure out packaging, and which regulations you need to meet, and then you realize that you’re going to need more cash to make it all happen. “I need to find the path that leads to funding fastest,” concluded one sustainable agriculture entrepreneur.
Two obvious paths to funding for young startups are through Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants, especially the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, and via Kickstarter, the crowdfunded donation site.
With Focus on Pasture-Raised Livestock, Two 1st Generation Farmers Forge Sustainable Path in the Ozarks (Part 2)May 24, 2012 | Hana Lurie
The following is Part 2 of the interview (Check out Part 1 here) with Cody Hopkins of Falling Sky Farm. This portion of the interview focuses on the farm’s business model, how Cody and Andrea found the funding to start the farm and advice to budding sustainable farmers just starting out.
With Focus on Pasture-Raised Livestock, Two 1st Generation Farmers Forge Sustainable Path in the Ozarks (Part 1)May 24, 2012 | Hana Lurie
From 40 acres to 250. From $5,000 to $189,000 in sales within its first five years, Falling Sky Farm, a grass-based livestock farm located in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas about 100 miles outside of Little Rock, has been working to develop a sustainable farming model that it hopes to leverage and share with other like-minded farmers seeking to create economically viable operations.
Falling Sky Farm is helmed by co-owners Cody Hopkins, age 32 and his wife Andrea Todt, age 27. Both are first generation farmers who come from non-traditional farming backgrounds. Cody, a former high school physics teacher, has a Bachelors of Arts in Physics, and Andrea has a BA in Outdoor Education and Biology. They are largely self-taught.