Improving and increasing urban agriculture goal of two new grants

WSU’s Metropolitan Center for Applied Research and Extension (Metro Center) will bolster urban agriculture with help from two new grants funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Brad Gaolach
Brad Gaolach

The grants total over $1 million, with the Metro Center receiving just under $500,000.

The first grant, led by the University of Oregon, will look at the feasibility of establishing new agricultural sites on and in buildings. Examples include rooftop farming, green facades, and indoor greenhouses.

The second grant, led by Michigan State University, will help establish a conference to support research, extension, and education teams to develop new urban agriculture projects to help with food production while building the skills of faculty to work in teams across expertise and networks.

“Urban agriculture is increasingly critical to ensure nutritional security, community resilience, and equitable access to healthy foods for growing urban populations,” said Brad Gaolach, director of the Metro Center who is involved in both grants. “However, lack of open space and high land prices present a constraint to starting new farms and gardens in our cities.”

The overall goal of the first grant is to identify critical challenges, barriers, benefits, and opportunities in building-integrated agriculture and also create a network of professionals to work on that type of agriculture. Gaolach and his colleagues on these grants hope to do this through academic training, applied research, Extension programs, and industry engagement.

The Metro Center uses WSU’s expertise to help inform data-driven decisions that help people in urban areas of Washington. The Center’s work is geared toward developing practical knowledge and solutions to alleviate modern world problems.