Lt Governor Bysiewicz and Agriculture Commissioner Hurlburt Announce $250,000 Funding to 8 Recipients of the Connecticut Resource Conservation & Development's Climate Smart Agriculture Grant Program
(Bloomfield, CT) – On Friday, February 2, 2024, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz and Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt held a press conference at Auerfarm in Bloomfield joined by Connecticut Resource Conservation and Development (CT RC&D) to announce the awardees from Round 1 of its Climate Smart Agriculture Grant program, and the opening of Round 2 of funding. In this first round of funding, CT RC&D administered $250,000 to eight farms around Connecticut. This funding will drive over $867,000 in climate smart projects.
“Together, the Commissioner and I have toured countless farms to celebrate CT Grown Products or to learn more about the innovation in agriculture happening throughout our state. But more recently, we’ve also been touring farms to see first-hand flooding or other storm-related damage and are consistently confronted with a stark reality that we can no longer afford to ignore the devastating effects of climate change,” said Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz. “As we face this reality, I’m pleased to see this vital investment in increasing resiliency and reducing climate impacts on our state's beautiful farms.”
In March 2023, Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) awarded nearly $7 million to 12 entities through the Climate Smart Agriculture & Forestry Grant, established under Public Act 22-118 to increase the number of farmers implementing climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices.
“Connecticut’s agricultural producers are known for being both innovative and good stewards of working lands,” said Agriculture Commissioner Hurlburt. “The response to the Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry grant was tremendous and today we get to celebrate how one of those recipients is further distributing funds to support additional on-farm energy and soil health projects which will provide long-term benefits for both the farm operation and the environment as we seek to mitigate climate change.”
CT RC&D received $1 million in funding from CT DoAg for a two-part proposal which included offering sub-grants to Connecticut producers to implement energy or soil health practices and also offer 4 Climate Smart Equipment Hubs for CT Veteran Farmers, Northeastern CT, CT River Valley Region, and Northwestern CT. Through this grant CT RC&D is sub-granting $500,000 offered in two rounds to producers with creative and out-of-the box plans to increase resiliency and reduce climate impacts on their farms.
"With 37 applicants requesting over $1.1 million in funding, the response to Round 1 of CT RC&D's Climate Smart Agriculture Grant shows the need for this kind of program in Connecticut,” said Jocelyn Lahey, Executive Director of CT RC&D. “We are thrilled to be able to support 8 of those proposals from Round 1 and look forward seeing the great ideas that come in as applications in Round 2."
Among the recipients from Round 1 are Azeem Zakir Kareem and Sarah Rose Kareem, founders of Samad Gardens Initiative, a demonstration farm and incubator farm program located at Auerfarm 4-H Farm and Education Center. They began farming in community garden plots in Hartford in 2020, expanded their production in Simsbury, and in 2023 added the Auerfarm location. On their ¾ combined acres, they produced over 2,500 pounds of food in 2023. Understanding the importance of soil health, their project includes the implementation of multi-species cover cropping, natural mulch production and application, and reduced tillage with a goal of increasing organic matter by 25%. Tracking soil health is essential when seeking increased crop production yields, and in this case, they will be tracking nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium levels, and as mentioned, organic matter.
Additional Round 1 CT RC&D Climate Smart Agriculture grantees include:
· Fort Hill Farm, LLC (New Milford) to support soil steaming for high tunnel vegetable production to result in reduction of weed, nematode, and disease issues in soils in high tunnels.
· Hidden Blossom Farm, LLC (Union) to establish 3 acres of silvopasture through removal of invasive shrubs, vines, and poor-quality trees to stop soil erosion and extend grazing season.
· Little Ark Farm (Enfield) to implement a flexible fencing system for prescribed grazing of waterfowl flock and conversion of cropland to forage and cover crops to build soil organic matter and reduce fertilizer usage.
· Long Table Farm (Lyme) to establish a solar community compost center to sequester carbon and divert food waste from landfills thus reducing CO2 emissions.
· Oxen Hill Farm (East Granby) to purchase and install roof-mounted on-farm renewable energy system to supply power to walk-in refrigeration, pump washing water, overhead lighting and farm machinery.
· Seacoast Mushrooms LLC (Mystic) to support on-farm renewable energy with purchase and installation of a roof and ground-mount solar array to power the electrical needs of the farm.
· Sprucedale Gardens Nursery (Woodstock) to support on-farm renewable energy with purchase and installation of a ground-mounted solar system to supply power to ventilation fans in greenhouse, wells for irrigation water, environmental control equipment, and lighting.
CT RC&D has opened Round 2 of the funding opportunity. If you have creative ideas on how to address climate change impacts on your farm through on-farm energy (energy efficiency or renewable energy) or soil health projects and practices, be sure to visit their website at: https://ctrcd.org/climate-smart-agriculture/.
Connecticut Resource Conservation & Development (CT RC&D) is a statewide 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization in operation since 1968 with a variety of environmental and agricultural programs. The CT RC&D Climate Smart Agriculture Grant program is made possible with funding from the CT Department of Agriculture and its purpose is to offer sub-grants to Connecticut producers for the purpose of implementing climate smart on-farm energy and/or soil health practices.
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) mission is to foster a healthy economic, environmental, and social climate for agriculture by developing, promoting, and regulating agricultural businesses; protecting agricultural and aquacultural resources; enforcing laws pertaining to domestic animals; and promoting an understanding among the state's citizens of the diversity of Connecticut agriculture, its cultural heritage, and its contribution to the state's economy. For more information, visit www.CTGrown.gov.
FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:
CT DoAg: Rebecca Eddy, Rebecca.Eddy@ct.gov, 860-573-0323
CT RC&D: Amanda Fargo Johnson, email@example.com