Prince George’s Urban Farm Incubator Initiative Wins Urban Ag Conservation Grant

The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) announced $1 million in urban agriculture conservation funding for 20 conservation districts across 14 states, including Prince George’s County Soil Conservation District.

NACD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) first partnered through the Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative in 2016 to support technical assistance activities related to community-oriented agricultural programs.

Photo credit: NACD

From the NACD press release:

“The Urban Agriculture Conservation Grants provide opportunities for conservation districts to continue their great work in new and different ways,” NACD President Michael Crowder said. “The projects we’re announcing today will help conservation districts reach new audiences and build new programs to provide technical assistance in a variety of community-oriented settings.”

The projects will enable multiple partners to support each other on topics as varied as soil health, native plants and pollinator health, while making concerted efforts to reach new clients of conservation districts.

The Prince George’s County Urban Farm Incubator Initiative set out to identify and address soil and water resource concerns associated with urban agriculture. The program focuses on the health, education, economic development, and environmental benefits of urban agriculture. The improved water filtration may have longlasting effects for the community’s health, but also for the community’s infrastructure, as improved water filtration may reduce stormwater runoff in urban and peri-urban areas, which in turn, may reduce the need for expanding stormwater management infrastructure.

From the program description:

The purpose of the Urban Farm Incubator Initiative is to connect urban farmers to the land, infrastructure, training and other resources necessary to launch an urban farm enterprise that implements soil and water conservation practices to preserve and protect our soil and water resources…

This project provided an opportunity to work with the county’s legislative and executive branches to secure a full-time urban ag conservation planner position and to address zoning issues affecting expansion of urban ag operations. Farm planning software is being developed specifically for this program, making the district the first in Maryland to use this new software. The most significant accomplishment is the creation of a new conservation program within the district to provide locally-led soil and water conservation to a new, previously underserved customer base.

Read more about this program and the other grant winners on the NACD website.