As more and more spaces become urbanized, it will be vital to integrate urban agriculture into our communities. Some benefits of urban agriculture include:
- Nutrition: Fresh food loses its nutritional value as soon as it is picked. Having access to locally grown food allows people to increase the nutrients they are consuming.
- Health: Growing and/or participating in the urban agriculture community has been found to increase a person's emotional, social, and physical well-being.
- Economy: Not only does urban agriculture cut produce costs if you grow it yourself, it can also provide a flexible income for gardeners. Advanced technology in the field - such as aquaponic/hydroponic systems and indoor farms - allows for continuous growing of crops, which offers consistent job opportunities to community members.
- Community: Urban agriculture protects green spaces as well as provides a space for community development.
- Environment: Increasing green spaces protects towns and cities from urban heat island effect, decreases noise and air pollution, reduces carbon emissions, and improves water regulation.
The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (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.
Deschutes SWCD was one of only 20 conservation districts in the nation this year awarded an Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant. DSWCD partnered with the Environmental Center and Bend Pollinator Pathways to create a teacher workshop on soil health for their school gardens. The grant focused on improved soil health through the creation of a school garden's workshop for Central Oregon educators. Each school was provided with Blanketflower, Sulphur- Buckwheat, Firecracker Penstemon, and Narrowleaf Milkweed to plant in their pollinator corridors as well as $200 f0r soil amendments (compost, straw, mulch, manure, cover crop seeds, and etc).