|Online Resource Draws on USDA's and Partners' Experience with Launching and Sustaining Urban Agriculture Operations Points Producers to Helpful Financial and Technical Resources|
WASHINGTON, April 29, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled the USDA Urban Agriculture Toolkit,
a new resource created by USDA's Know Your Farmer team to help
entrepreneurs and community leaders successfully create jobs and
increase access to healthy food through urban agriculture. From
neighborhood gardens grown on repurposed lots, to innovative mobile
markets and intensive hydroponic and aquaculture operations, urban food
production is rapidly growing into a mature business sector in cities
across the country.|
"Urban agriculture helps strengthen the health and social fabric of communities while creating economic opportunities for farmers and neighborhoods," Vilsack said. "USDA's Urban Agriculture Toolkit compiles guidance from our Know Your Farmer team and many private partners into one comprehensive resource to help small-scale producers manage all aspects of their business. From protecting soil health to marketing to schools and grocery store chains, USDA has tools to meet the needs of this new breed of innovative urban farmer and small business owner."
Industry estimates show U.S. local food sales totaled at least $12 billion in 2014, up from $5 billion in 2008, and experts anticipate that value to hit $20 billion by 2019. The numbers also show that these opportunities are helping to drive job growth in agriculture, increase entrepreneurship and expand food access and choice.
USDA's Toolkit is an electronic document that helps urban and small farms navigate more than 70 helpful resources, including technical assistance and financing opportunities. It focuses on some of the most pressing challenges confronting urban producers such as land access, soil quality, water resources, capital and financing, infrastructure, market development, production strategies, and applying for federal, state or private foundation grants. University extension service partners in Chicago and Indianapolis helped develop cost estimates for starting urban farms and the toolkit includes information on best practices and check lists for start-ups and early-stage producers planning outdoor or indoor operations.
Some of the USDA resources featured in the Toolkit include:
Several Baltimore organizations in the vanguard of urban agriculture have developed resources that are included in the Toolkit as models for other communities like the City Farm Alliance's Urban Agriculture How-To Guide, the Community Law Center's Urban Agriculture Law Project Manual and the Green Pattern Book that helps local leaders map and identify productive new uses for vacant land.
During the event, Vilsack also highlighted expansion of a partnership between USDA and the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, increasing the number of opportunities for young people in Baltimore to serve as AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates, earning valuable professional and life experience while serving their community. These AmeriCorps members will serve with the Maryland Out of School Time (MOST) Network to provide summer opportunities for Baltimore City residents. They will join the more than 1,400 AmeriCorps members currently serving institutions and organizations throughout the city, including Frederick Douglass High School.
The Urban Agriculture Toolkit and the UAWG are part of USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative (KYF2) supporting the Obama Administration's work to strengthen economic bonds between rural and urban areas. Launched in 2009, KYF2 breaks down silos and takes stock of USDA programs that support the growing demand for local and regional food systems.
Visit the KYF2 website at www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer to find local and regional food system resources in your community. Learn more about the $1 billion USDA has invested in 40,000 projects to develop local market opportunities at https://medium.com/usda-results as USDA celebrates Know your Farmer Month in April.