The city of Gary and the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Services have received a nearly $200,000 Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, or SARE, grant. The funding will support the city’s efforts to create urban agriculture education programs.
Only four large grocery stores within the city limits sell fresh produce, creating a challenge for residents. The city says it is using its green urbanism initiatives to use urban farming as a means of providing residents with fresh produce and groceries.
"Receipt of this grant emphasizes the need for the availability of healthy foods in our community," said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. "This is also an opportunity to highlight the many components of our green urbanism initiatives to improve food access, eliminate blight, to create green spaces, to create jobs and small business opportunities in the city."
The city says the grant will be used to help urban farmers learn about farming systems and increase the skills they need to become successful at growing fresh produce. It will also support the creation of an urban agriculture certificate program, a tool sharing initiative for small-scale farmers, the formation of a peer-to-peer networking group, and the development of a validated internship program with trained mentors.
Additionally, the city says it will use the funding to evaluate the experiential learning activities to determine how effective they are in boosting production and knowledge gained by urban farmers.
The Maryland-based SARE program awards grants throughout the country each year.