USDA selects Ohio State to support new urban agriculture effort

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Plants grow in raised beds in a city.
GROW Urban Farm, in Youngstown, Ohio, provides fresh produce to the community, and an opportunity for people in Flying HIGH’s programs to gain work experience and earn a stipend while they work on other skills training. (Sarah Donaldson photo)

COLUMBUS — The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency recently selected Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences to support the creation of a new USDA Urban Service Center designed to further urban agriculture and innovative production in Ohio.

The USDA is opening 17 new Urban Service Centers in 15 states nationwide. The Cleveland USDA Urban Service Center is a first for Ohio. The five-year collaborative partnership will later expand to metropolitan sites across northeast, central, northwest, southwest and urban Appalachian areas in Ohio.

FSA awarded cooperative agreements to organizations located in the 17 cities where USDA is opening a USDA Urban Service Center or will have an urban county committee, said John Patterson, state executive director for the USDA FSA in Ohio.

“Until now, there has been no vehicle for urban growers to easily access USDA priorities and funding,” Patterson said, in a statement. “Whether a farm is in a rural area or the middle of a city, the USDA FSA is committed to working with farms of all sizes and in all locations. Urban farming is in every county across Ohio, and agriculture is for everyone.”

USDA Urban Service Centers offer farmers and producers a place to connect with FSA and Natural Resources Conservation Service staff to discuss their business and conservation goals and learn ways in which the USDA can help their urban operation. The USDA service centers also offer conservation and climate-smart practices, disaster assistance, farm loans, and risk management programs.

OSU Extension’s role in supporting the Cleveland USDA Urban Service Center will include conducting outreach and education and providing technical assistance. OSU Extension will also assist in addressing local priorities in urban, indoor and other emerging agricultural enterprises, as part of an overall goal to raise awareness and expand equitable access of available USDA programs and resources.

“Urban, indoor and emerging agricultural enterprises in Ohio’s metropolitan areas play a vital role in Ohio’s agricultural community,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES, in a statement. . “Our college recognizes Ohio’s rural-urban interface and collaborates with other organizations, such as the USDA, to advance the innovation and success of agricultural entrepreneurs of all ages.”

Visit farmers.gov/urban for more information on programs and services for urban producers.

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