MA Urban Agriculture Program

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)


Grant amount: US $5,000 - US $75,000

Anticipated deadline: Jun 30, 2019 2:00pm PDT

Applicant type: Government Entity College / University Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Applied Project / Program

Location of project: Massachusetts

Location of residency: Massachusetts

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Overview:

MDAR launched the Urban Agriculture Program in the fall of 2013, one of the nation’s first state-wide programs to support and promote commercial urban farming enterprises. Funding through the program targets infrastructure needs, innovative food production, zoning ordinances, technical assistance, land acquisition, and youth leadership development. 

Purpose and Overview

The purpose of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ (MDAR) Urban Agriculture Program is to advance policies, leverage collective resources, and support commercial projects designed to increase the production, processing, and marketing of produce grown in urban centers across the Commonwealth. Expenditures will promote strategies to address food insecurity and to increase access of fresh, local produce in urban neighborhoods with a high concentration of low-moderate income residents.

Urban agriculture encompasses a wide variety of activities related to the growing of plants and the raising of animals for food including but not limited to: production techniques such as land-based outdoor and greenhouse cultivation, rooftop open air and greenhouse production, hydroponics, aquaculture, aquaponics, beekeeping and egg-producing poultry. Each project proposal must represent long-term, capital investments such as infrastructure improvements, building upgrades, purchase of computer software and systems, land procurement, and purchase of farm equipment. Projects will also foster youth development, small business development, and job training directly related to commercial urban farming. 

MDAR’s Urban Agriculture Program seeks proposals that demonstrate strategies for municipalities to increase access to affordable, fresh food for urban residents address the challenges of small scale farming in densely populated centers, and create direct markets in low-moderate income neighborhoods.

Examples of Project Priorities

  • Soil Management: Initiatives that address the issues of soil quality in urban environments with particular emphasis on improving soil fertility in blighted areas and/or demonstrate techniques expanding the production, and availability of compost;
  • Land: Proposals for acquisition of land for food production in urban settings;
  • Equipment: Mobile market vehicles, small farm equipment or hand tools;
  • Marketing, Distribution, Transportation: Improve the transportation and distribution of locally grown products from farm to customer such as food hubs sourced from local urban farms or other innovative technologies designed to aid/improve cost-effective distribution of food produced on urban farms to urban residents;
  • Green Infrastructure: Demonstrations of greenhouse, hoop house, cold frame and other technologies to help urban farmers scale up the volume, quality and enable year round production or to manage energy and water usage, or allow for more intensive and efficient food production in urban environments;
  • Innovative Growing Technology: Demonstrate practical/economically viable approaches to urban aquaculture/aquaponics and vertical farming and other innovative growing methods to make available local sourced food and products to low-moderate income communities;
  • Urban to Rural Bridge: Strengthen the connections between rural and urban agriculture, including but not limited to: innovative market models, technology, job creation and food production benefitting and sited within urban neighborhoods.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.

Eligibility:

  • This grant program is open to Massachusetts:
    • Municipalities
    • Nonprofit Organizations 501 (C)(3) Organizations
    • Public or non-profit educational or public health institutions
    • Established urban farmer with more than 3 years of commercial urban farming experience
  •  Land proposals:
    • For land acquisition proposals, applicant must have for a minimum of 3 consecutive years of commercial agriculture experience.
    • Projects require a 25% cash match.

Preferences:

  • For all projects, other than land/property access, matching funds are preferred, but not mandatory.

Ineligibility:

  • This program does not fund community gardens or backyard produce or livestock raised for personal consumption.