New funding available to help urban farm efforts

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Photo by Kurt Krejny

WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, Ohio – Cuyahoga County urban farmers are now eligible to receive more than $132,000 in federal financial assistance.

The Cleveland Seasonal High Tunnel Pilot Project was announced Aug. 27 by U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge with Dave White, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Cleveland pilot project will assist farmers in Cuyahoga County with the purchase and installation of high tunnels, commonly called hoop houses, to extend their growing season.

The project will teach urban farmers about production, avenues for marketing their product and provide on-site technical assistance from industry experts.

More than 50 applications were received in the initial round of funding through USDA’s Know your Farmer, Know your Food Initiative. To date, funding has been awarded to 22 individuals and entities in Cuyahoga County.

“Urban farms are the victory gardens of our time. They are an increasingly important resource to vanquish food deserts, urban blight, and obesity,” said Fudge.

Other funding

Also Aug. 27, the congresswoman welcomed a joint presentation by AgriBank, CoBank and Farm Credit Services of Mid-America. The agricultural lending institutions announced a $135,000 donation to support beginning urban farmers through the City of Cleveland’s “Gardening for Greenbacks” program.

The Farm Credit donation, presented to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Fudge at the event, will fund grants of up to $5,000 to acquire equipment such as tools, irrigation equipment and fencing.

“Cleveland is home to the largest urban agriculture district in the country. We have managed to help set up community gardens, farmers markets, urban farms and market gardens in and around the city’s food deserts- creating greater access to healthy and local foods,” said Jackson.

The announcement concluded with details of a $40,000 USDA-NRCS grant recently awarded to Cuyahoga Community College for an Outreach Youth Project to run in the coming year.

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