The Berks County Conservation District was awarded an urban agriculture conservation grant through a partnership with the National Association of Conservation Districts and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service to boost technical capacity nationwide.
Berks Conservation District was one of 20 conservation districts across 14 states to receive funding. NACD and NRCS established the Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative in 2016 to help conservation districts and their partners provide much-needed technical assistance for community-oriented agricultural projects in both urban and rural contexts.
The Berks County Conservation District will provide technical and educational support for the Cultivating Communities initiative developed by the City of Reading’s Victory Garden Task Force as part of the Environmental Advisory Committee.
Commissioned by Council Vice President Lucine Sihelnik, this taskforce continues to address soil health, water conservation, stormwater runoff and nonpoint source pollution, climate change resiliency, and food security within environmental justice communities.
“The Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant will bring urban gardening into the City of Reading with the hope of expanding community gardening projects by utilizing vacant lots, the City greenhouse and also assist the City with its MS4 requirements,” BCCD Executive Director, Dean Druckenmiller.
“The task force is a collaborative of over 10 local conservation organizations, business, and nonprofit organizations. Together, they have enhanced our local food systems through Victory Garden distributions in the City and new Community gardens emerging as a direct response to hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic,” states Council Vice President Sihelnik.
“The City looks forward to partnering with the Conservation District in this great initiative.”
This is the fifth round of funding awarded by NACD and NRCS, with grants totaling $5.6 million for 122 projects across 35 states.
“The Urban Agriculture Conservation grants provide opportunities for conservation districts to continue their great work in new and different ways,” NACD President Michael Crowder said.
“The projects we’re announcing today will help conservation districts reach new audiences and build new programs to provide technical assistance in a variety of community-oriented settings.”