Urban agriculture grants available through September | St. Louis Public Radio

Urban agriculture grants available through September

Sep 5, 2016

Anyone in St. Louis, Kansas City, or any other urban area in Missouri who wants to plant rooftop gardens or fruit trees can get financial help from the state.

The Department of Agriculture is providing matching grants of up to $7,500 for urban and non-traditional agriculture projects. A total of $100,000 is available for the current fiscal year, and higher priority will be given to projects that create jobs and "demonstrate an economic benefit and potential for sustainable revenue generation."

Spokesperson Sarah Alsager says food production in urban areas can be a challenge.

"As we all can probably understand, generations now are becoming further and further removed from the farm," she said "Helping urban areas reconnect with agriculture and where their food comes from is such an important component of our society today."

The grants can also be used to develop agribusinesses in urban areas and expand infrastructure.

Urban farming can get state support.
Credit Erin Williams | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

"Last year we had a project that included planting fruit trees in the city, and then making that produce available to people in the area," Alsager said. "There was actually a project in St. Louis last year, at EarthDance in Ferguson, where they constructed what was called (a) harvest house, and it was a model for other local farmers who were considering their own packing structures."

She added that St. Louis and many other metro areas contain what are called "food deserts."

"A food desert would be any urban area in which residents don't have access to local produce," Alsager said, "a place where it's hard to find food that you can get straight out of the ground or right off the tree."

The application period runs through Oct. 1, and projects approved for grant money must be completed by May 1, 2017.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport