Members of the Farm Credit System today announced continued financial support for beginning urban farmers in the City of Cleveland through the “Gardening for Greenbacks” program. CoBank and Farm Credit Mid-America have committed $50,000 to the program in 2019.
Established in 2009, Gardening for Greenbacks is an innovative initiative developed by the City of Cleveland to increase production of local foods. The program has established Cleveland as a model for local food system development. Providing financial assistance to local entrepreneurs for development of for-profit urban gardens has encouraged economic development and increased residents’ access to fresh, healthy and affordable food.
U.S. Rep Marcia Fudge introduced Farm Credit to the local food movement in Cleveland in 2012. Since an initial investment of $135,000 in the program, along with other support, 35 farms have opened in the last five years, 21 of which are minority and/or female-owned businesses.
“Through Gardening for Greenbacks, Farm Credit Mid-America is supporting agriculture by empowering farmers, many of them young and diverse, in an urban environment,” said Bill Johnson, president and CEO of Farm Credit Mid-America. “These farmers are making make fresh, healthy and affordable food available to residents who otherwise might go without.
“Cleveland is a national leader in supporting urban agriculture and we are proud to help further their efforts,” said Johnson.
“Farm Credit shares Representative Fudge’s commitment to encourage and support young and beginning farmers,” said Thomas Halverson, president and CEO of CoBank. “Our support of the Gardening for Greenbacks program has allowed us to help people to enter the world of urban agriculture, supplementing their incomes and increasing access to fresh produce throughout the city.”
The Farm Credit donation will fund grants of up to $5,000 for recipients to acquire equipment needed for urban gardening, such as tools, irrigation equipment and fencing. Eligible grant recipients must be certified in urban agriculture by either The Ohio State University’s Master Gardener Volunteers program or the Rid-All Green Partnership’s Annual Training Series. Participants must also commit to sell their produce locally.