The National Association of Conservation Districts, in partnership with USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, has awarded a $50,000 Urban Agriculture Grant to the Greenville County Soil and Water Conservation District. The grant will partially fund the Legacy City Farm project; an urban demonstration farm which will showcase the latest conservation techniques in urban agriculture. The farm will be located at Legacy Charter School and will serve as an example of best management practices to residents, community gardens, and the local small farm community. NACD granted a total of $2 million to GCSWCD and 41 other districts across 25 states.
“I’d like to congratulate these conservation districts on their outstanding leadership and continued commitment to improving and protecting our natural resources on urban landscapes,” NACD President Lee McDaniel said. “NACD is exceedingly proud of these districts’ work to strengthen agriculture conservation efforts in communities that are typically underserved, and in many cases, considered food deserts.”
In a county with diminishing surrounding farmland, urban gardening has become increasingly necessary and a model farm showing sound practices is much needed. Led by teaching farm manager, Jason Schmidt, GCSWCD and Legacy Charter School along with collaborators Campbell Young Leaders, Chartwells, Greater Greenville Sanitation, and Gardening for Good, expect the farm to produce fresh produce and agricultural products that will feed Legacy students. As additional produce becomes available, it will then become available to the local community. Greenville has a long history of urban gardening with a strong network of community gardens.
Legacy Charter Schools is located in a USDA Economic Research Service recognized food desert. Many residents have young children who do not have access to affordable fruits and vegetables on a regular basis. In attempts to counter act this, the farm will provide not only produce to the surrounding neighborhood, but also education opportunities to local residents and small farmers about new conservation farming techniques that will allow residents to begin to garden and grow their own produce.
Along with its collaborators, Legacy Charter School will utilize sustainable practices to educate the school, the neighboring community and community gardens about soil and water conservation while providing the local community as well as the school with a supply of fresh produce and agricultural products. Students’ engagement with the farm will be measured through projects and intern interactions that will be integrated into the curriculum by Mr. Schmidt and the school’s faculty.
The Legacy Charter School Farm aims to become a model production farm in order to explore and highlight technical aspects of urban agriculture that can be done by everyone.
About the Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Program
With support from NRCS, NACD established the Urban Agriculture Conservation Grants Initiative in 2016 to help conservation districts and their partners provide much needed technical assistance for agricultural conservation where the land is predominately urban or urbanizing. Through this initiative, the partnership is expanding efforts to support agricultural conservation projects in underserved communities. The 2016 grants will help urban farmers, community gardens, other local agricultural partnerships implement conservation practices that support local food production, provide opportunities for education and stewardship, and protect natural resources.
“NACD is proud to award and support these districts for embracing the opportunity and responsibility that comes with expanding our support of locally-led conservation,” McDaniel said. “Our ability to put conservation on the ground is growing every day, and projects like these make all the difference.”