DOAG: Farm Viability Grant Supports Connecticut Agriculture


Farm Viability Grant Supports Connecticut Agriculture

Bureau of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation

 

The Farm Viability Grant program, administered by the Department of Agriculture (DoAg), provides matching funds to Connecticut municipalities, groups of municipalities, regional councils of governments, and/or agricultural non-profit organizations for projects that sustain and enhance agriculture in their communities.  Applications for this year’s program will be accepted November 13 – 20, 2018.

 “Our partnering municipalities, COGs, and agricultural nonprofits have used these funds in highly productive ways to grow and support farming while benefiting their communities as a whole,” Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said. “I urge municipal leaders and other qualifying organizations to apply to the Farm Viability Grant program and join us in furthering Connecticut farms, food production, and related initiatives.”

The Bethany Community Garden was awarded a 2015 Farm Viability Grant. That year, the $237,559 total awarded to 16 grantees leveraged $263,749 in matching funds as part of the competitive matching grant program.  Each recipient may apply for up to $49,000.

The Bethany Community Garden raised bed construction project added 30 beds to the existing 19-bed garden, fueled by unmet demand for garden plots. The project also included extending the water line and installing a spigot in the expanded section of the garden and installation of deer fencing around the garden, which is located at 90 Pole Hill Road, Bethany, CT. The garden now consists of 49 raised beds, including four double-height and handicapped-accessible beds, all of which were fully rented for the season.

“The Bethany Community Garden has had an impact on the larger community beyond the gardeners,” said board member Aileen Magda. “Neighbors and passersby stop in to stroll through the gardens and admire the beauty and diversity of the plantings in the beds.”

In addition to providing a sunny and inviting location where residents can visit and grow flowers and vegetables, the garden also benefits the local food pantry. The produce grown in two dedicated raised beds is donated to the Jewish Family Services food pantry in New Haven, and has supplied more than 700 pounds of produce to the food pantry since the garden’s opening.

The Bethany Community Garden, which opened for planting on May 30, 2015, was created by the Bethany Community Garden Board, a subcommittee of the Bethany Garden Club. The Board is composed of six members, who are UConn Certified Master Gardeners and/or Master Composters.  Board members collaborated on designing the size and layout of the garden, and guided the garden proposal through the municipal approval process.

The Bethany Community Garden project was supported by a $4,192 Farm Viability Grant. The grant was supplemented with a $3,422 match from the Bethany Community Garden to cover the $7,614 community garden expansion project.

The Farm Viability Grant requires applicants provide a minimum 40-percent match of grant funds. Funded projects often exceed the requirement, however, and on average provide 75 percent of the total project cost through cash and in-kind services.

Knox, Inc. received a 2016 grant for expansion of their urban incubator farming program in Hartford. The $19,500 award helped add an additional 0.75 acres of land and 4,000 square feet of greenhouse space for six incubator farmers. The grant, which leveraged a cash match of $51,837, also paid for a portion of the cost associated with installation of a new washing station at the Laurel Street farm for improved food safety.

The Bridgewater Land Trust was one of 24 organizations awarded funds through the 2017 Farm Viability Grant program. A $24,000 grant funded a portion of the repair of roofs on two barns used by the Bridgewater Land Trust and neighboring famer Bud Wright for hay and equipment storage. Bud Wright recently preserved his 43-acre farm through DoAg’s Farmland Preservation Program in partnership with the Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust.

The approximately $450,000 in total 2017 Farm Viability Grant awards leveraged about $580,000 in matching funds and in-kind services.

Since the Farm Viability Grant program began through the passage of the 2005 Community Investment Act (CIA) approximately $5,300,000 has been awarded to 236 projects. These grant funds have been used to leverage more than $2,500,000 of matching funds and $13,000,000 of in-kind contributions to support Connecticut agriculture.

In addition to the Farm Viability Grant, CIA funds also support municipal open space and land preservation projects, historic preservation, affordable housing programs, and new infrastructure to support and promote Connecticut agriculture. CIA funding is generated from a $40 fee collected by municipal clerks for recording documents into land records.

Farm Viability Grant applications are due to DoAg by 4:00 p.m. on November 20, 2018.  For additional information about the application process, visit www.CTGrown.gov/grants.