US (CA): CDFA announces $11.67M urban agriculture grant program

The California Department of Food and Agriculture's Office of Farm to Fork has announced their new $11.67 million Urban Agriculture Grant Program (UAPG), a one-time, competitive grant to fund programs and projects that will enhance the viability of agriculture in urban areas across the State of California. The deadline for applications is October 23, 2023, at 5 p.m. PT.

What is the purpose of the UAGP program?
The UAGP program is designed to support projects that enhance urban agriculture, or the cultivation, processing, and distribution of agricultural products in urban settings, including things like inground small plot cultivation, raised beds, vertical production, warehouse farms, mushroom growing, urban forestry and tree care, community gardens, rooftop farms, hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic facilities, and other innovations. Applicants may apply to one of the two tracks described below.

Track 1: Systems Builder Community-Based Block Grant
The Systems Builder Community-Based Block Grant (SBBGB) is a program that provides funding to Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) to increase their staff capacity and support urban and regional food systems planning.

Eligible CBOs may apply for awards of up to $800,000 to engage and administer subawards to urban agriculture stakeholders in their region. Track 1 funded organizations may use up to $60,000 of the award for eligible urban agriculture work being done internally. Subawards to external stakeholders will range from $5,000 to $60,000.

At least one CBO within each urban region of California will receive an award, and at least one CBO with statewide reach will receive funding. CDFA aims to distribute awards geographically throughout California's urban areas to the extent possible.

Track 1 project applicants must serve one of the following urban areas of California:

  • Sacramento: Sacramento, Stockton
  • Bay Area: North Bay, East Bay, and South Bay
  • Fresno: Fresno, Bakersfield
  • LA: Los Angeles, Long Beach
  • San Diego: San Diego
  • Statewide

Track 2: Urban Agriculture Practitioner Grant
The Urban Agriculture Practitioner Grant (UAGP) is a program that provides direct funding to urban agriculture projects led by or serving priority populations in urban areas. Eligible applicants include for-profit businesses, non-profit organizations, Resource Conservation Districts, Tribal Based non-profits, and Tribal Governments.

The UAGP awards grants of up to $300,000 for projects that promote food security, economic development, environmental sustainability, and community resilience. Priority populations are identified using the California Air Resources Board's California Climate Investments Priority Populations map. Urban areas are defined by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

To be eligible for the UAGP, projects must:

  • Be led by or serve priority populations
  • Be located in an urban area as defined by CDFA
  • Promote food security, economic development, environmental sustainability, or community resilience
  • Have a clear plan for how the grant funds will be used

What can this funding be used for?
The funding can be used for urban agriculture projects that support infrastructure, equipment, technical assistance and operations, workforce development, and community engagement and education.

  • Infrastructure, including funding for site development, season extension, irrigation systems, tool storage, wash and pack areas, community gathering spaces, aggregation and distribution preparation areas, land improvements, and innovations in production equipment.
  • Equipment, such as tools, post-harvest wash stations, bins, boxes, labels, packaging, delivery vehicles, farm stands, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) supplies, refrigeration units under $5,000, technology and software for sales, marketing, and communications, and technology and software for field management.
  • Technical Assistance and Operations, including funding for peer-to-peer technical assistance providers, recognized experienced technical assistance providers, business planning, forming cooperatives, marketing and communications, food safety certifications, climate-smart agriculture certifications, evaluation, data collection, quantitative and qualitative reports on the impact of project, and design, planning and implementation consultants and contractors for weed management, irrigation, soils, site development, navigation of permits and legal processes, and website development.
  • Workforce Development: This includes funding for staff capacity to operate programming, internship stipends or hourly pay, professional development opportunities, and ensuring youth from all backgrounds have access to paid positions developing urban food systems.
  • Community Engagement and Education, such as funding for community workshop development and materials, staff capacity to operate Community Engagement activities, translation services for community engagement at an urban farm, open house tours and field trips for residents, students, elderly, or other underserved community members, and agritourism.

Is there a cost-sharing/match requirement?
This grant program does NOT require Matching Funds. The CDFA will fund up to 100% of the total project cost.

Who is eligible to apply?
Eligible applicants for Track 1 should have knowledge and experience in regional food systems and include:

  • Non-profit organizations
  • Resource Conservation Districts
  • Public or private colleges and universities
  • California Native American Tribes
  • Tribal Based non-profit organizations

Eligible applicants for Track 2 include:

  • Non-profit organizations
  • For-profit organizations
  • Resource Conservation Districts
  • Native American Tribes
  • Tribal Based non-profit organizations
  • A qualified small business

Local, state, and federal government entities and public or private colleges and universities are not eligible to apply.

Are there priority populations?
Priority will be given to urban agriculture projects led by or serving priority populations. Priority Populations will be identified using the California Air Resources Board's California Climate Investments Priority Populations map.

Grant duration
CDFA will consider one-year and multi-year grants, with a target starting in early spring 2024 and ending by September 2026. The maximum grant duration is 28 months.

Award timeline
The CDFA expects to announce the awardees of the UAGP program in February 2024.

The full Request for Applications can be found here.

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