The Farm Institute was notified last week that it has received funding from the USDA’s Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education to support Island farmers who want to experiment with innovative crops or processes. The Pilot Parcels Project will help Martha’s Vineyard farmers explore new ideas in an area of extremely limited access to land and high production costs.
With only 900 acres of the Island’s 47,000 acres in food production, the demand for locally grown products is strong and expanding. However, there are great challenges to farmers trying to advance Island goals for food self-sufficiency and little room for exploration.
Pilot Parcel Project will invite farmers from all backgrounds and experience to apply to use one-acre plots at The Farm Institute for either innovative crop production or innovative practices. The project would provide a low-risk environment for answering participant’s enterprise questions, such as: Is it feasible to grow our own hops for beer? Could I raise my own grain for locally grown chickens? The Farm Institute will ask its own questions about whether successful projects can be expanded through ongoing partnerships.
An application form will be available on the Farm Institute website by March 1 for interested farmers. Selection criteria will include the potential of gathering new ideas to share with the farm community, the feasibility of the plan, and the goal of having a mix of farm experience and crops in the project. The Pilot Parcels Project will provide chosen participants with help with soil preparation, educational events and consultations to support the projects, as well as a small budget for seed, equipment rentals or other supplies.
The Pilot Parcels project is part of NESARE’s Sustainable Community grants program.
Information taken from a press release.