Financial Help To Further Grow City Area Gardens And Farms

The USDA is awarding more than $132,000 in federal assistance to farmers who set up "hoop houses". The structures help extend a farmer's growing season, and cuts down on their use of pesticides.

Another $135,000 was donated by a consortium of ag lenders, namely AgriBank, CoBank, and Farm Credit Services of Mid-America. The money is to help the City of Cleveland's "Gardening for Greenbacks" program, where farmers can receive up to $5,000 for tools, fencing, and other items to grow and sell their produce.

The funding was announced at one of numerous urban gardens that have sprung up on abandoned lots in recent years. Among those on hand was Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, who says urban farming restores purpose to these blighted properties that plague many parts of Cleveland.

"This gives it a use that is beneficial to community and it feeds people," says Fudge. "1 in 6 people in this country are on food stamps or are poor. This allows them to not have to spend their own resources to feed their families, because they can come to these gardens and get free food."

Urban gardens are also heralded as a way to fight "food deserts"…areas where access to fresh produce is limited, often leaving residents with fast food or processed food items that can lead to a number of health issues.

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