Last summer, we applied for funding under the USDA and Natural Resource Conservation Service’s ‘Climate Smart Commodities’ grant program. We proposed “Building whole-farm designs and market infrastructure to provide premiums for Climate Smart Farming among mid-sized agricultural enterprises in the Ohio River valley” (a mouthful I know). In December, USDA gave us a great Christmas present– we were funded to work on this exciting challenge until 2028!
So, what does that mouthful of a title mean? Over the next five years we will design, build and realize a program in the great Ohio River Valley that:
- connects with and pays farmers;
- studies our land base from the point-of-view of whole farms, experiments with practices, provides technical assistance and learns from experience;
- measures outcomes; and
- creates economic incentives through market development to finance continuation of the work
All of this has the goal of improving the relationships which cycle carbon from our atmosphere into our soils, healing the land and supporting farmers who aren’t tiny and aren’t big industrial scale either.
We will be in negotiations with the USDA in January to confirm our award amount and enter into a formal contract. Many thanks to USDA for digging into this critical work, helping to redesign agriculture for a new millennium with a $3.1 billion investment in 141 selected projects across the country.
Once we have our contract settled with the USDA, we will begin to formalize relationships with technical assistance providers, farmers, markets, agricultural scientists, biochar makers, advisory board members, wise friends and more. We will also be seeking a few new staff members to join us later this year.
Thanks for sharing your ideas through our contact form if you like! I’m feeling beyond blessed to be stepping into the role of Program Lead, from my own hometown, and my own home river valley bioregion (the world’s finest!). I can’t wait to be working in community, with you, on what the world needs now.
–Alice Melendez, Program Lead, Climate Smart Commodities