USDA Announces Grants For Urban Agriculture And Innovative Production

Image sourced from the USDA

Image sourced from the USDA


Editor’s note: The following information is derived from an interview Agritecture conducted with Leslie Glover of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. Read the USDA's News Release to learn more about the grants, or reach out directly to with any application-related questions. Apply here!

Supporting Innovation In Urban Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the availability of up to US$4 million for grants to further support urban farming entrepreneurs and businesses looking to innovate. 

The number of individuals, groups, and community organizations seeking to build stronger local food systems is growing. It is encouraging to see the USDA continue to provide financial support to city stakeholders as applicants around the country aim to improve their communities through urban agriculture.
— Jeffrey Landau, Agritecture’s Director of Business Development

Considering that over 6.7 billion people are projected to live in urban areas by 2050, these grants are essential to ensuring greater food security in the urban context and helping support food justice and equity. This enables farmers to better educate and unify communities to improve the locals’ overall health and permit them greater nutritional access.

As part of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production, Leslie Glover comments that “the purpose of UAIP competitive grants are to support the development of urban agriculture and innovative production activities by funding planning projects and implementation projects. Planning projects may be designed to initiate or support projects in the early stages of development, while Implementation projects may be designed to accelerate existing and emerging models of urban, indoor, and other agricultural practices that serve multiple farmers or gardeners or improve access to local food in the target area(s).”

Who Is Eligible To Apply?

Awarded by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, this grant opportunity “is only eligible to nonprofit organizations, local or tribal governments, and any schools that serve any of the grades kindergarten through 12 in areas of the United States.” 

More specifics on eligibility can be found in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NFO), and supporting documents can be found on the USDA's website. Although seemingly limiting for non-eligible parties, Leslie adds that “non-eligible entities can be partners on a project” in order to benefit from this grant.

This is a really great opportunity for for-profit businesses to partner with nonprofits to meet shared goals. For example, a school that wants to set up a small vertical farm as part of their science curriculum could apply for funds and partner with a local vertical farm operator for technical expertise. A city that is looking to promote various aspects of urban agriculture within its jurisdiction could be the lead and partner with a software designer to develop an online platform that helps facilitate the various aspects of urban agriculture that it wants to promote. The possibilities are endless, and for creative organizations, this is a golden opportunity.
— David Ceaser, Agritecture's Lead Agronomist

Inspiring A Change

Previously awarded grants have seen great success in reshaping food production in built-up urban cities. Leslie shares that “last year’s grants were used in several ways from creating a citywide Agriculture Master Plan in New Haven, Connecticut, to providing fresh produce to food deserts and food insecure areas in targeted urban zip codes in Wichita and Sedgwick Counties in Kansas.” 

As for this new $4 million made available for grants this year, the USDA wants to continue inspiring and encouraging change. Leslie adds that “like last year, the goal is to serve communities in urban areas, suburbs, or urban clusters where access to fresh foods are limited or unavailable.” This is planned to be done “by leveraging collaboration, information sharing, and reporting on evidence-based impacts.”

If you’re interested in applying, reach out to Agritecture to be a supportive partner and strengthen your application! With our 10+ years of experience in local food systems planning, and our portfolio of 130+ clients in over 50 cities, our team of agricultural experts can help you make the strongest application.


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