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If you are looking for grant and loan programs to incubate your local food and farm initiative or enterprise, this graphic from USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food site may be of interest. The color coding refers to the specific USDA agency that manages the grant or loan program (i.e., USDA – Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA – Farm Service Agency, USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service, etc.).
Urban agriculture – a topic that appears to be gaining much attention because of its potential to ensure food security and increase the consumption of local food. But what is urban agriculture… and does it mean everyone will have cows in their backyard? Can the grass and garden be greener on the roof?
The dilemma of Virginia’s small to mid-level farmers and lost farmland
For some people, the loss of small to mid-level farms is inevitable because these farms either lack the economy of scale to compete in an ever-changing globally oriented commodity-based market or do not have the flexibility and resources to transition to a more direct-to-consumer market. Indeed, many small and mid-level farms in Virginia, those with annual gross sales of between $50,000 and $500,000, are struggling to survive financially.
There is unprecedented demand for local foods across Virginia and the United States. Presently, the demand appears to be greater than the supply of locally-grown and identified foods. Many groups, organizations, and universities are looking to scale up local foods to meet the demand and strengthen the overall food system so local foods are available and accessible to more people of all socioeconomic levels. In 2009, the University Wisconsin’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems identified 10 keys to scaling up to meet the demand for local food: