August 1, 2011
On Tuesday, July 26, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) of USDA announced the availability of grants of up to $150,000 through its People’s Garden Grant Program. The program will fund projects to facilitate the creation of produce, recreational, and/or wildlife gardens in urban and rural areas, which will provide opportunities for food access and science-based informal education, particularly in urban and rural areas with persistent poverty or food insecurity. Approximately $725,000 in total funding is available.
This is an opportunity for emerging Farm to School programs to seek funding to establish or improve school-based or community gardens as venues for hands-on nutrition education and experiential learning.
State colleges and universities, agricultural extension services, independent school districts, nonprofits, and individuals are eligible to apply for the People’s Garden Grant Program. Applications are available through the federal governments online applications portal. The deadline is August 26, 2011.
The People’s Garden Grant Program, which is also supported by Agricultural Marketing Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Food and Nutritional Service, Forest Service, and Natural Resources Conservation Service, is an outgrowth of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s initiative to form a People’s Garden at USDA headquarters and at USDA facilities throughout the country in honor of the 200th birthday of President Lincoln who founded USDA as “the people’s department” in 1862 .
NIFA will host a teleconference on Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) for potential applicants. To participate in the teleconference, please call toll-free (888) 858-2144; the access code is 1059897. For those unable to participate in the call, NIFA will post a summary of the questions and the information provided to the NIFA website.
NIFA additionally requests stakeholder input from any interested party for use in the development of the next RFA for this program.
NSAC has long been a supporter of the Farm to School Program, which will be distributing its own competitive grant awards starting next year, at the start of Fiscal Year 2013 in October 2012. NSAC recently submitted recommendations to USDA on the implementation of this program. We would encourage schools and school districts that are considering applying to the new Farm to School grant program to consider this People’s Garden grant program as a way to fund the school garden component of a larger farm to school endeavor.