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State Agriculture Department Announces $1 Million Awarded to Urban Farms and Community Gardens Across the State

Awarded Projects Will Help Organizations Expand Gardens, Invest in Infrastructure, Purchase Equipment, and Establish Education Programs

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets today announced that $1 million has been awarded to 22 organizations across the state through Round 2 of New York State’s Urban Farms and Community Gardens Grant Program. The program is designed to support community growing spaces and recognize their impact on local food resiliency and food security for New Yorkers. Funding for the program was included in the FY 2023 Enacted Budget and is a part of Governor Hochul’s 2023 State of the State commitment to making local food more accessible to all New Yorkers.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Our community growing spaces are a critical part of our neighborhoods and to ensuring more New Yorkers have access to fresh, nutritious foods. I thank the Governor for recognizing the unique needs that our urban farms and community gardens serve and the role they play in ensuring a strong, reliable food supply. Congratulations to all of our awardees; we look forward to seeing the expansion and enhancement of these farms and gardens.”

Funding was awarded to 22 urban farms and community gardens across the state for projects that focus on food production, food safety, and food distribution while also creating a lasting impact on local food resiliency. Awards will help the organizations managing these spaces to expand gardens, build structures, purchase equipment, and establish educational programs. The awarded recipients include:

Capital Region

  • Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Schenectady County, Green Roots: Growing Food and Community in the City- $50,000         

Central New York

  • Cooperative Extension of Madison County, Expansion of the Morrisville Community Learning Garden- $46,155

Finger Lakes

  • Foodlink Inc., Foodlink Urban Farm Expansion Project: Phase 1- $50,000 

  • EquiCenter Inc., EquiCenter Community Garden Support Initiative- $41,663

Long Island

  • Island Harvest LTD, Healthy Harvest Farm and Giving Gardens Expansion- $50,000

  • Sisters of St. Joseph, CSJ Community Garden Ministry- $22,784

Mid-Hudson

  • Clarkstown Central School District, Clarkstown Central School District School and Community Garden Wellness Initiative- $50,000

  • Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Building the Poughkeepsie Urban Growers Network- $50,000

Mohawk Valley

  • Unadilla Community Farm Education Center, Inc., Increasing Food Access in Central New York- $44,610.18

New York City

  • Randall’s Island Park Alliance, Inc., Community Seedling Distribution Program- $50,000

  • Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School- $50,000

  • Carl Fenichel Community Services Inc., LETC Smile Farms: 2024 Food Resiliency project in Flatbush Brooklyn- $40,816

  • Wyckoff House & Association, Inc., Wyckoff Farmhouse 2024 Urban Farm, Garden Apprenticeship and Farm Stand Season- $50,000

  • Volunteers of America - Greater New York, Inc., Schwartz Farm- $37,000

  • Services for the Underserved, Inc., SUS Community Food Security Program- $50,000

  • New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, NYC GreenThumb Chicken Coop Project- $44,404.48

  • NYC Department of Education, PS 34 Food Forest Project and PS 131 Hydroponics Science Lab/Farm Classroom- $50,000

  • New York Restoration Project, Gardens for the City: Supporting Food Production in Community and School Gardens- $49,003

  • Council on the Environment Inc., GrowNYC Community Garden Renovation Project- $49,824.44

  • The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx Community Farm Hubs: Increasing Food Production and Strengthening Youth Leadership- $50,000

Southern Tier

  • Maine-Endwell School District, Maine-Endwell School Gardens- $26,103

Western New York

  • Canticle Farm Inc., Canticle Farm Educational Center- $45,000

In Round 1 of the program, $800,000 was awarded to 35 organizations across the state through the Urban Farms and Community Gardens Grant Program.

Larkin Podsiedlik, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension Madison County, said, “CCE Madison is grateful for funding to expand the reach of our Community Learning Garden in Morrisville, which will help our gardening education programs thrive. Thanks to this opportunity, more Madison County residents will have access to growing and learning space where they can build local food resiliency, food security, and learn more about gardening and food production through demonstration plots and hands-on education.”

Julia Tedesco, President and CEO of Foodlink, said, “Foodlink is incredibly grateful to have been granted funds for our Urban Farms and Community Gardens project. We are a Rochester, NY-based food bank with an urban farm that provides produce for our programs and agricultural space for the surrounding neighborhood, which largely comprises New Americans from the Nepali, Bhutanese, Burmese, and Somali communities. With funds, we will be able to provide not only growing space but vital farm tools, equipment, and responsive services to ensure our community members have what they need to grow healthy and medicinal foods for their families.”

Laura Montoya, Poughkeepsie Farm Project Youth Program (PFP) Coordinator, said, “While PFP has now focused for 5+ years on creating opportunities for teens and young adults to connect with urban agriculture and food justice, the formation of the "Root Crew," or alumni crew leaders within the youth internship program, represents an important development in the workforce pipeline for City of Poughkeepsie youth who are interested in land stewardship and food systems but are often marginalized in these fields due to race, geography, and household income. The 2024 Urban Farms Grant from NYS Dept of Agriculture and Markets will provide Root Crew leaders with significant mid-level job training hours and agricultural professional development both on-site at PFP and at a local urban farm in the center of Poughkeepsie, Pershing Avenue Urban Farm and Gardens. The Pershing Avenue Urban Farm and Gardens is currently managed by partner organization Scenic Hudson, and a portion of the grant will be used to fund the urban farmer at Pershing as a peer-learner and coach to Root Crew leaders.”  Laura continued, “All of our interns get to be outside, learn about earth and seeds, and try all of this new food. It totally opens up their mind. We get to help new interns come out of their shell. But, one of the most powerful and important parts of the internship happens for returning interns. Returning interns experience continuity with us. They have a job that they feel comfortable and loved in. We get to offer a safe container for the transition of becoming a young adult.”

In addition to the Urban Farms and Community Gardens Grant Program, Governor Hochul’s 2023 State of the State plan included additional initiatives under the Urban Farms and Community Gardens Grant Program, as recommended by the Community Gardens Task Force: the New York State Community Gardens Leadership Certificate Program, the New York State Soil Testing Program, and the Community Garden Land Access Toolkit. In collaboration with Cornell University, the Community Gardens Leadership Certificate Program will develop a comprehensive and affordable curriculum for garden leaders, including a biennial Garden Leader Summit that supports in-person knowledge sharing and networking among participants. The New York State Soil Testing Program, announced last week, will allow eligible community gardens in New York State to send soil samples for testing up to one time per year without charge. The program will be presented in partnership with the Cornell Soil Health Lab, and technical support and education for participating growers will be provided by the Cornell Harvest New York team. Finally, the Department will develop a Community Garden Land Access Toolkit for municipalities and community groups with model guidance, helping to strengthen partnerships to protect and increase the number of community garden spaces across the State.

New York is home to more than 3,000 registered or permitted urban and community gardens. Through its community gardens efforts, the Department of Agriculture and Markets helps foster greener, healthier cities by connecting community groups with state or local agencies to facilitate the use of vacant properties for community gardens. This grant program complements the Department’s ongoing efforts to provide technical assistance to community growing organizations statewide and promote urban agriculture. 

Source : ny.gov

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