Funds Available for Urban, Indoor, and Innovative Farming

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now requesting applications for the Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (UAIP) Competitive Grants Program for FY 2021. Proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (8:59 p.m. PDT) on July 30, 2021. 

What is the purpose of the Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Competitive Grants Program?

The purpose of this program is to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural practices, including:

  • Community gardens and farms located in urban areas, suburbs, and urban clusters;
  • Rooftop farms, outdoor vertical production, and green walls;
  • Indoor farms, greenhouses, and high-tech vertical technology farms;
  • Hydroponic (growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid), aeroponic (growing plants in an air or mist environment), and aquaponics (growing plants in the water that has been used to cultivate aquatic organisms) farm facilities; and
  • Other innovations in agricultural production, such as agroforestry and food forests, as determined by the Secretary.

Who is eligible to apply?

Eligibility for this opportunity is limited to the following entity types:

  • Native American tribal governments (federally recognized);
  • Native American tribal governments (other than federally recognized);
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), other than institutions of higher education;
  • Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education;
  • A unit of local government; and
  • Any school that serves any of the grades kindergarten through grade 12.

Applicants are encouraged to seek and create partnerships with public or private, nonprofit or for-profit entities, including links with academic institutions (including minority-serving colleges and universities), and/or other appropriate professionals, community-based organizations, and local government entities. Only the applicant must meet the eligibility requirements.

What applicants will be given the highest consideration?

The applicants that meet the following four criteria will receive the highest consideration:

  • Experience in the area of:
    • Agriculture and/or innovative production for three years or more; and
    • Serving communities in urban areas, suburbs, or urban clusters where access to fresh foods are limited or unavailable, such as listed in the USDA ERS - Food Access Research Atlas.
  • Demonstrate competency to implement a project, provide fiscal accountability, collect data, and prepare reports and other necessary documentation;
  • Demonstrate a willingness to share information with researchers, evaluators, practitioners, and other interested parties, including a plan for dissemination of results; and
  • Collaborate with one or more partner organizations working in the project target area(s).

What types of projects are eligible?

There are two types of UAIP Grants: Planning Projects and Implementation Projects.

1. Planning Projects (PP)—The purpose of PP is to support the development of projects that will either initiate, build upon, or expand the efforts of farmers, gardeners, citizens, government officials, schools, and other stakeholders in urban areas and suburbs. PPs may be, but are not limited, to accomplish one or any number of the following:

  • Develop recommendations for implementing community gardens and farms that can include urban agroforestry practices, food forests, or orchards, that respond to community needs as it relates to how food is grown, distributed, and marketed in target area(s);
  • Facilitate urban agriculture assessments and identify opportunities that connect community needs with the benefits of urban agriculture such as food access, nutrition education, conservation, innovation, and economic development;
  • Support the development of business plans, feasibility studies, and strategies to help offset start-up costs for new and beginning farmers in urban and suburban areas;
  • Provide support for municipal planning that consider policies to meet the growing needs of and zoning for community gardens and farms, urban agroforestry, orchards, rooftop farms, outdoor vertical production, green walls, indoor farms, greenhouses, high-tech vertical technology farms, and hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic farm facilities; or
  • Assist schools that seek to increase knowledge of food and agricultural disciplines such as nutrition, crop and biology science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to develop and implement programs that create future leaders, farmers, gardeners, and entrepreneurs in agriculture and innovative production.

2. Implementation Projects (IP)—The purpose of IP is to accelerate existing and emerging models of urban, indoor, and other agricultural practices that serve multiple farmers or gardeners. IPs are to improve access to local food in the target area(s). IPs may be designed to:

  • Facilitate the development of entrepreneurial projects by offering needed resources, such as job training, land, equipment, mentoring, and other business development assistance to new and beginning farmers;
  • Increase food production in small urban and indoor spaces with emerging technologies such as vertical farming, hydroponics, aquaponics, rooftop farms, urban agroforestry etc.;
  • Operate community gardens or nonprofit farms to educate a community on food systems, nutrition, environmental impacts, urban agroforestry, food forests, sustainable agriculture, and agricultural production and/or to offer hands-on training in farming or gardening;
  • Meet specific State, local, or community food and agricultural needs by assisting municipalities, food producers, community organizations, and schools with policies for community gardens and farms that address food access, soil health, emerging technologies, and agricultural business; or
  • Provide schools with resources to incorporate and emphasize the importance of growing and consuming nutritious food as well as training students for careers in agriculture.

What are the funding levels for this program?

NRCS anticipates approximately $4 million will be available to support this program in FY 2021. Funding levels vary per project type:

  1. Planning Projects (PP): The estimated minimum award amount for PP is $50,000 and the maximum award amount is $200,000.
  2. Implementation Projects (IP): The estimated minimum award amount for IP is $50,000 and the maximum award amount is $300,000.

Is there a cost sharing or match requirement?

There is no cost sharing or matching requirement for this opportunity. There is no competitive advantage to applicants who voluntarily provide a match.

What is the project period?

Projects may be between one and three years in duration. Applicants should plan their projects based on an estimated project start date of October 1, 2021.

When is the grant deadline?

Proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (8:59 p.m. PDT) on July 30, 2021. 

The notice of funding opportunity can be found here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at or call us at 530-893-4764.


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