New State Grant Program Awards Quarter Million to Urban Agriculture Projects
Nine projects designed to encourage urban youth agricultural programs will receive $233,750 in funding through a new Minnesota Department of Agriculture program.
The AGRI Urban Agriculture Grant Program is the result of a 2016 state report that found there was interest among Minnesota residents in having government support for urban agriculture. The program was inspired by a failed bill, authored by Representative Karen Clark (DFL-Minneapolis), with a similar mission.
“Promoting urban agriculture, especially with youth, will allow kids growing up in urban environments to see that they too can be a part of the food system through agriculture,” says Erin Connell, grant program administrator.
Having grown up in an urban environment, Connell says she knows the challenge of exposing city kids to farming.
“At age 10 I was convinced that in order to be involved in agriculture you had to be a farmer and live in rural Minnesota.”
In college, however, Connell’s eyes were opened to opportunities in urban agriculture. That’s the goal of the grant program: “not to decrease the value of the rural farmer, but to allow for urban communities to have a hand in creating their own food system.”
The 2018 AGRI Urban Agriculture Grant recipients who will work in this space are:
- Appetite for Change: A Minneapolis-based company that will provide job readiness training to North Minneapolis youth through urban farming and farmers’ market participation
- Frogtown Farms: A St. Paul-based company that will provide high-level, hands-on urban agricultural education
- Lakeview Elementary School: This Robbinsdale school will be able to expand its garden by adding a greenhouse and outdoor classroom
- Little Earth Community: Based in Minneapolis, this company will focus their community-led urban farm production on Indigenous principles and perspectives
- Prairie Island Indian Mdewakanton Sioux Community: The Red Wing community will implement a micro-farm aquaponics system to educate youth and address health disparities related to food access experienced in the area
- Project Sweetie Pie: This Minneapolis endeavor will transform a greenhouse into a youth and adult education center
- University of Minnesota Bee Lab: This facility in Falcon Heights will host 5 field days of hands-on learning activities and workshops for local students focused on pro-pollinator practices that enhance productivity
- University of Minnesota Extension: K-12 youth in the Virginia, Minnesota “Virginia Grows” program will be invited to participate in afterschool 4-H programming at a nearby greenhouse
- Youth Farm: This Minneapolis entity will expand its Farm Stewards Fellowship curriculum which focuses on educating youth on skill development related to food, social change, and urban agriculture.
The beneficiaries of this round were chosen by the Commissioner of Agriculture and a review committee comprised of experts from various agriculture-related fields. Funding for the program has been assigned for two fiscal years, 2018 through 2019. Connell says they’ll invite proposals for the next round as soon as possible.