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Department of Agriculture Celebrates Fifth Annual Urban Ag Week, Kicks Off Statewide Urban Farms Tour Highlighting Strengthened Communities

07/11/2022

Erie, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding kicked off the 5th annual Pennsylvania Urban Agriculture Week in Erie, Butler, and Lawrence counties today, where he toured five urban gardens tackling food insecurity by improving access to fresh, healthy foods in their communities.

Pennsylvania's Urban Ag Week celebrates urban agriculturalists making a difference in local food systems and Wolf Administration investments growing their community impact. This week, Secretary Redding will visit 19 urban farms and agricultural operations in the cities of Erie, New Castle, Butler, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Easton, and Wilkes-Barre.

"This week I have the incredible opportunity to travel the state and meet inspirational people who see the connections between agriculture and civics; agriculture and culture; agriculture and science; and agriculture and humanity," said Redding. "Urban agriculturalists have bridged the intersections of agriculture and society and taken action to grow food access and equity in their communities. Agriculture is urban and rural, and it has the power to transform our communities."

Urban Ag Week was first designated by the Wolf Administration in 2018. The week addresses food access, food security, and food apartheid, while celebrating the contributions of urban agriculture to the communities it serves. One year after its founding, Governor Tom Wolf signed the Pennsylvania Farm Bill into law, establishing the Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program which invests $500,000 annually into projects addressing urban food insecurity.

Since 2019, the Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program has invested $1.5 million in 93 urban agriculture projects across 19 counties. The program has leveraged an additional $1.5 million in local investments through matching dollars, totaling a $3 million initiative to grow food access in urban communities.

"When people think of farming in Pennsylvania, images of rolling waves of cornstalks or cattle grazing in pastureland often come to mind. We certainly have those here, but to our benefit Pennsylvania agriculture is extremely diverse," said Senator Elder Vogel, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee. "Some of our greatest community assets are the small urban gardens across the commonwealth.

In plots on rooftops and in lots along parks and streets, Pennsylvania's urban farmers raise fresh and nutritious foods and – perhaps most importantly – teach others the importance of agriculture. This tour provides an excellent opportunity to shine a spotlight on just a few of these community treasures."

Erie School District's East Middle School Garden was one of Redding's first stops on the Urban Ag Tour. The district received a $825 Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant to support its hands-on learning and child nutrition efforts through its Farm to School initiative. Grant dollars purchased soil, seed trays, and hydro domes to grow starter plants.

"The Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program has benefitted Erie School District by providing funding to support our thirteen school gardens," said Doreen Petri, Erie School District Farm to School Project Manager. "Urban agriculture benefits children of all ages from elementary to middle to high school levels by engaging them in hands-on garden activities that also reach out to their surrounding communities.  Urban Ag Week gives us a chance to highlight our educational programming at one of our gardens - this year it's East Middle School."

Urban Ag Week tour dates and locations include:

  • Monday, July 11: Wild Field Urban Farm, Sisters of Saint Joseph Neighborhood Network Urban Farm, and East Middle School Garden in Erie; Lawrence County Community Action Partnership; and Butler County Community Action Partnership
  • Tuesday, July 12: Churchview Farm, 1 Sound Urban Farm, Tree Pittsburgh, and Peace & Friendship Farm in Pittsburgh
  • Wednesday, July 13: EcoBridge and YMCA Camp Curtain in Harrisburg
  • Thursday, July 14: Eastwick Community Gardens, John Bartram Gardens, Pasa Sustainable Agriculture Philadelphia Headquarters, Urban Creators, and Perrystead Dairy in Philadelphia
  • Friday, July 15: Easton Community Garden; The Seed Farm in Emmaus; and Wilkes-Barre Community Gardens

For more information about Urban Agriculture Infrastructure grants, including a map of all PA Farm Bill grant recipients in your region, visit agriculture.pa.gov.

Note: High-resolution photos and captions from the full week of tours will be available on Flickr.

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers, shpowers@pa.gov

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