NACD, NRCS announce $2 million for urban ag conservation
The National Association of Conservation Districts, in partnership with USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, has awarded $2 million in grants to 42 conservation districts in 25 states to boost technical assistance capacity for urban agriculture and conservation projects.
“NACD and the conservation districts we represent work on a scale that no other conservation organization or coalition does,” NACD President Lee McDaniel told an audience of conservation leaders in Minneapolis on Sunday. “We have the reach we need to engage the 98 percent of folks who don’t necessarily produce our fuel, fiber, and food, but still can make a sizable and positive difference on the landscape.”
“With today’s announcement, NACD is broadening its base and the base of support for conservation in this country. We are going to reward, support, and encourage conservation implemented on every landscape.”
With support from NRCS, NACD established the Urban Agriculture Conservation Grants Initiative to help conservation districts and their partners provide much needed technical assistance for agricultural conservation where the land is predominately urban or urbanizing. Through this initiative, the partnership is expanding efforts to support agricultural conservation projects in underserved communities.
McDaniel, who is in his second and final year as president of NACD, made the funding announcement alongside Jason Weller, chief of NRCS and longtime champion of voluntary and incentive-based conservation.
“I commend Lee for his leadership and vision, and for emphasizing the importance of urban conservation and urban agriculture,” Weller said. “NACD and NRCS are focused on broadening our reach through more partnerships with communities across the country. Awarding this funding is an important step that NACD, state associations, and individual conservation districts are taking along with NRCS – a step that I’m very proud to support.”
The 2016 grants will help urban farmers, community gardens, other local agricultural partnerships implement conservation practices that support local food production, provide opportunities for education and stewardship, and protect natural resources.
The Eastern Connecticut Conservation District (CD) will use its $50,000 grant to provide technical assistance to a number of urban gardens, farmers markets, and community supported agriculture (CSA) projects in Middletown, Connecticut. ECCD staff will conduct farm and garden assessments to identify opportunities for irrigation, soil health, and pollinator and wildlife habitat improvements and will provide assistance in the implementation of recommended conservation practices. The district also plans to use the additional staff hours to develop conservation plans for expanded fruit and vegetable, hay, corn, and cattle grazing operations on land leased from the city.
The Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Greater San Diego will use its award to support district staff who manage the Tijuana River Valley Community Garden. Located in the southernmost part of San Diego County, the garden currently covers about five acres of a 23-acre parcel and includes 138 30’ by 30’ plots. The RCDGSD plans to convert a portion of the remaining acreage – which is currently fallow and covered in invasive plants – into an additional 77 garden plots to help shorten the list of the more than 160 local residents waiting to farm a plot of their own. The grant will support district staff as they oversee the garden’s expansion; provide gardener outreach and education on conservation practices, like composting and irrigation; and create a conservation plan.
For a complete list of the 42 conservation districts who received awards, visit NACD’s website by clicking here.