PENNSYLVANIA — On Friday, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding wrapped up a weeklong annual tour of diverse projects in Pennsylvania that aim to strengthen communities and drive economic progress through agriculture. The tour presented remarkable individuals who are reshaping the public perception of agriculture and fostering unity through the common bond of food. Urban agriculture is a burgeoning force that is shaping the future of Pennsylvania, inspiring, advocating sustainability, and forging community connections.
“It’s a beautiful thing to meet inspirational people who are changing the public perception of what agriculture is,” Secretary Redding said. “At every stop, we have seen a labor of love by devoted, passionate Pennsylvanians who are uniting neighbors who may not share anything but the common denominator of food.
“Urban agriculture is feeding Pennsylvania’s future, whether it’s helping young people find inspiration and learning life skills, selling cut flowers to fund free food boxes for low-income neighbors, putting cutting-edge science and technology to work to reduce food waste and grow healthier food, or providing familiar food and community connection to new Americans making their home in an unfamiliar place.”
At Fresh Food Farms in York, Governor Josh Shapiro joined the tour to announce The GIANT Company’s commitment of $200,000 to support 2023-24 PA Farm Bill Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grants. The partnership boosts total funding to $700,000 for the state’s program aimed at increasing fresh food access in urban food deserts, addressing historical inequities, and feeding community opportunities to thrive together.
From formerly incarcerated women learning to grow food year-round in a retrofitted freight container, to children with disabilities learning life and job skills with expertly adapted tools, to public school agriculture career and technology students learning to grow produce in soil-less systems using hemp by-products, the tour introduced local and state legislators, educational and economic development officials to projects supported by state investments multiplied by private and corporate partnerships.
Pennsylvania has invested more than $2 million in urban agriculture through the program since 2019. That $2 million investment has leveraged $2 million more in local matching dollars. In total, 113 projects in 19 counties across the state are expanding fresh food access in locations often served by a single convenience store.
Applications open Monday, July 17 for 2023-24 Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grants. Eligible projects will improve or create programs, sharing resources or pooling agricultural products to build a neighborhood’s access to fresh, local food. Individuals, businesses, community and agricultural organizations in urban communities may apply for either individual “microgrants” or collaborative grants for partnership projects.
Grant applications must be submitted online through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development Electronic Single Application. Applications open Monday, July 17, and are due at 5:00 PM on Sept. 1, 2023.