Fueling local economies with fresh foods

Cities are getting creative when it comes to revitalizing the economy, and public health


A growing number of agriculture-related programs are taking root across the country thanks to funding programs designed to support economic development.

San Antonio

The City of San Antonio recently launched its 2015 Farm to Work program in partnership with a mobile farmers market. The Farm to Work program has been incorporated into San Antonio’s public employee health and wellness program that encourages city workers to live healthier lifestyles and include fresh foods in their diets, KSAT reported.

Through the program, fresh produce is sold in bundles daily around lunch times in the main downtown area. The produce is locally-sourced from farmers throughout the state and delivered fresh to different organizations in San Antonio such as City Hall, various hospitals, and energy plant and a local mall, KSAT reported.

The Farm to Work program is a statewide initiative designed to connect local merchants and customers with produce from nearby farmers. Individuals and organizations can order produce online and have a basket of fresh food delivered to their buildings directly. While the trucks are out delivering, individuals can locate the mobile farmers market and pick up fresh food at their convenience as well.

Genesee County

The New York State Environmental Protection Fund is awarding Genesee County with a $50,000 grant to update its sustainability and agricultural/farmland protection plans. The county will use the state funding to not only develop plans to protect land and the sustainability of local farms, but also boost economic development within the agriculture industry. Within Genesee County, the towns of Alabama and Oakfield also received grants for $25,000 each for the creation of sustainability plans in the municipalities, Buffalo News reported.

Through the state grant program, $376,000 awards were allocated to seven counties and six municipalities across New York. The grants must be used for agricultural and farmland protection plans with counties required to fund 50 percent of the plans’ development costs while towns must provide at least 25 percent, Buffalo News reported.

Seeds of Change

Seeds of Change is offering $200,000 in grants to support U.S. organizations participating in organic and sustainable gardening and farming. The grant program offers financial support to community-based gardening and farming programs through the allocation of:

  • Two $20,000 grants
  • Five $10,000 grants
  • Ten $1,000 grants

The goal of the grant program is to fuel the growth and success of school and community gardens that provide fresh produce to local communities as well as educate residents on how to find sustainable, healthy foods. The Seeds of Change initiative works to enhance the environmental, economic and social-wellbeing of gardens, farms, farmers and community groups.

In the past three years, the Seeds of Change Grant program has awarded funding to 45 community gardening programs for a total of $485,000 in support. The winning projects ranged from school sustainable gardens to educational farms to full-service urban farming systems.