WASHINGTON – Today, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) awarded nearly $1 million in funding through the Urban Agriculture Conservation (UAC) Grant initiative to 31 conservation districts across 15 states.
Since 2016, NACD has worked closely in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to deliver funding through this grant initiative, with the primary goal of increasing conservation districts’ capacity to deliver technical assistance related to urban, community, and small-scale agriculture.
In addition to today’s announcement, NACD and NRCS have awarded more than $6.5 million in funding for 131 grants in 38 states. Each year, the grantees are selected by NACD’s Urban and Community Resource Policy Group (RPG), which places a high priority on projects that will directly impact local food security and improve access to conservation education for traditionally underrepresented clients.
“Conservation districts are the boots on the ground across the country, making connections and implementing projects that bolster conservation practices,” said NACD President Michael Crowder. “The Urban Agriculture Conservation Grants provide the funding to make these things happen and give a pathway to new and innovative conservation practices and programs.”
New this year, the program opened to tribes and tribal conservation districts, providing additional pathways for NACD and NRCS to increase equity related to conservation technical assistance. Muscogee (Creek) Nation Conservation District in Oklahoma is among the successful 2022 applicants. The tribal district will identify citizens of the Nation who have an interest or need in expanding urban agriculture, while supporting the passage of traditional ecological knowledge and the adoption of conservation practices.
NACD has also opened planning grants, a new funding pathway created through the UAC grants due to an interest in expanding the program to conservation districts who may be new to the urban agricultural space. These grants provide an opportunity for districts to conduct needs assessments and develop partnerships within their local food systems, with the hope that districts will leverage these planning grants into large urban agricultural programs later.
Campbell County Conservation District (CCCD) in Wyoming will receive a planning grant to develop their “Growth Through Growth” program. In conjunction with the Y.E.S. (Youth Emergency Services) House, CCCD staff will install an interactive garden space at a local youth services center to serve as a learning lab for urban agriculture conservation practices.
Many of the other grantees will provide technical assistance through workshops, demonstration gardens, various virtual offerings, and other avenues related to pollinator habitat, soil health, water conservation, and many other resource concerns.
Learn more about the program outcomes and past grantees on NACD’s Urban and Community Webpage.