USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Announces Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production Grant Program - Due July 6, 2020

USDA National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for the Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production Competitive Grants Program with maximum funding levels ranging from $300,000 (for Implementation Projects) to $500,000 (for Planning Projects). There is no matching requirement.  

What is the Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production (UAIP) program? UAIP supports the development of urban agriculture and innovative production activities by funding Planning Projects (PP) and Implementation Projects (IP) led by nonprofit organizations, local or Tribal governments, and any school that serves any of the grades kindergarten through grade-12 in areas of the United States. PPs and IPs should target a single or multiple urban areas, suburbs, or urban clusters in the United States where access to fresh foods is limited or unavailable and should include one or more partner organizations to achieve project goals within the target area(s).

What projects are eligible? There are two types of eligible projects for this program:

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 designed to:

  • Develop recommendations for implementing community gardens and farms 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, 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, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to develop and implement programs that create future leaders, farmers, gardeners, and entrepreneurs in agriculture and innovative production.

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 should 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, etc.;
  • Operate community gardens or nonprofit farms to educate a community on food systems, nutrition, environmental impacts, 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.

Who is eligible to apply? Eligibility for this opportunity is limited to the following entity types:

  • Tribal governments
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the 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
  • Any school that serves any of the grades kindergarten through grade 12

What kinds of applicants will be given the highest consideration? Applicants meeting the following four criteria will be given higher consideration:

  • Experience in the area of: 1) agriculture and/or innovative production for three years or more; and 2) serving communities in urban areas, suburbs, or urban clusters where access to fresh foods are limited or unavailable, such as listed in the USDA 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 researches, 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 are the funding levels for UAIP Planning and Implementation Projects?

  • Planning Projects: The funding floor for PP is $200,000 and the funding ceiling is $500,000. A total availability of $1,000,000 is anticipated for PPs.
  • Implementation Projects: The funding floor for IP is $100,000 and the funding ceiling is $300,000. A total availability of $2,000,000 is anticipated for IPs.

Is there a cost-sharing/ match requirement? There is no cost-sharing/matching requirement for this grant.

What is the project duration? Projects may be between 1 and 3 years in duration. Applicants should plan their projects based on a project start date of September 15, 2020.

When are applications due? Applications must be submitted no later than July 6, 2020 at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

The full Notice of Funding Opportunity (NFO) is available here.

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

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