In a national competition, the Calhoun Conservation District was one of 10 organizations to win People's Garden grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Calhoun Conservation District is sponsoring the People’s Community Gardens of Southwest Michigan program that will award grants within these thirteen counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Eaton, Hillsdale, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren.
The Calhoun Conservation District was formed in 1945 and currently employs six full-time staff with backgrounds in natural resource management, agriculture, and education. The mission of the Calhoun Conservation District is to serve, educate, and empower our community by providing technical assistance and information to landowners in all aspects of natural resource management. The work of the District focuses on sustainable agriculture, natural resource management, environmental risk reduction, community education and projects.
USDA awarded $725,000 to create 155 gardens in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Ohio, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio.
The People's Garden Grant Program is an expansion of the People's Garden Initiative, started in 2009 by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the 200th anniversary of the birth of the President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln founded the Department of Agriculture in 1862, calling it "The People's Department" in his last annual message to Congress.
The People's Garden Grant Program (PPGP) is designed to facilitate the creation of produce, recreation, and/or wildlife gardens in urban and rural areas, which will provide opportunities for science-based informal education. This program is a joint initiative supported by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Food and Nutrition Service, Forest Service, and Natural Resources Conservation Service, in addition to NIFA. Successful applicants will provide micro-subgrant support to smaller local projects.
There are more than 1,400 People's Gardens across the nation, three U.S. territories and nine foreign countries.
The Calhoun Conservation District will have the Request for Proposals (RFP) on their website soon, so look for that upcoming announcement!