The US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, NRCS, and Farm Service Agency, FSA, in collaboration with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, will host an educational program on June 21 in Dallas.
The event will highlight the USDA support available for urban producers and the FSA’s Urban County Committee, and give the public an opportunity to see some of the AgriLife Extension urban agriculture projects in person.
The event will begin at 6 pm at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas, Water Education Building, 17360 Coit Road, Dallas. It will provide the public an opportunity to learn more about the NRCS, FSA and small-scale agriculture
The event is free but advance registration is required at https://tx.ag/UrbanAgDallas. In addition to lecture presentations, there will be a tour that includes the vegetable garden and high tunnel.
“I received funding from NRCS to help build a high tunnel, vegetable garden, pollinator habitat and rainwater harvesting,” said Joe Masabni, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension vegetable horticulturist, Dallas. “This program on June 21 will allow us to showcase what we have built and what we are growing.”
“The USDA is working to support urban agriculture as it plays an important role in growing not only fresh, healthy food where grocery stores are scarce, but also providing jobs and beautifying neighborhoods,” said Michael Higgins, USDA-NRCS urban conservationist, Arlington.
What is urban agriculture?
Urban agriculture includes the cultivation, processing and distribution of agricultural products in urban and suburban areas. Community gardens, rooftop farms, hydroponic, aeroponic and aquaponic facilities, and vertical production are all examples of urban agriculture.
Masabni said urban farmers expand access to nutritious foods, foster community engagement, provide jobs, educate their communities about farming, and expand green spaces.
“These farmers and gardeners play a key role in communities and whether they are established, just starting or considering becoming involved in urban agriculture, this program provides an opportunity to learn about our ongoing projects,” he said.
Urban agriculture resources
“We invite the public to come out to this event to learn more about urban agriculture, where we work, how we work with customers, and how we can help them take the next steps to build a conservation plan that enhances their vision,” he said. Higgins. “By connecting with customers in agriculture and working voluntarily with them, I help address natural resource challenges through free conservation technical assistance and a conservation plan.”
He noted this conservation plan may lead to financial assistance to support urban agriculture.
Higgins, as well as Crissandra Lee, a USDA Dallas Urban County FSA Committee member, and Stefen Tucker, county executive director, will all be at the event to meet more of the community members they serve and address any questions.
Tucker explained that the USDA has a new initiative being piloted in 11 locations throughout the country for the urban and suburban producers. Included in the initiative is the Dallas Urban County FSA Committee, which comprises a critical component of the FSA’s day-to-day operations and allows grassroots input and local administration of federal farm programs.
“The committee members help deliver FSA programs at the local level,” Tucker said. “The urban agriculturists who serve on the urban county committee guide the administration of farm programs provided by FSA. The urban county committee also helps identify the needs of urban agriculture producers. ”