Saranac Lake, NY – The Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) has been awarded a $558,000 federal grant to support climate-smart agroforestry projects on small farms in northern New York. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) awarded the regional economic nonprofit a Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant to help farmers diversify their operations while implementing farming practices that improve land, water and air quality across the region.
ANCA Awarded $558K USDA Grant for Climate Smart Project
The pilot project will provide customized technical assistance to participating farms and monitor economic and environmental benefits of utilizing agroforestry practices like silvopasture — a technique that integrates livestock, forage crops and trees on the same land. Planning and implementation phases of the project are expected to take two years, beginning in the summer and fall of 2023.
“Agroforestry practices like silvopasture help to retain soil moisture, mitigate soil loss, and sequester carbon, while also providing shade and fodder for livestock,” said ANCA Local Food Systems Program Director Adam Dewbury. “This grant will allow ANCA to provide no-cost technical support for agroforestry planning and implementation on farms, as well as financing for implementation.”
Dewbury said the project will also help develop a regional climate-smart brand for farms that use agroforestry practices to produce commodities such as dairy, meat, wool, berries and nuts.
Interlace Commons, a Vermont-based nonprofit that works on farm-based agroforestry initiatives across the Northeast, will provide planning and implementation support for the program. The project will take place on up to eight farms, including North Country Creamery in Keeseville, N.Y.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with ANCA and other farms to add trees to our dairy cow pasture, which will provide shade during the summer, protection from wind, more diverse fodder, and a myriad of soil health benefits,” said Ashelle Kleinhammer, co-owner of North Country Creamery. “These efforts will further our farm’s resiliency in the face of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns by increasing water retention in the soil, activating the mycorrhizal fungi population, and pulling up soil nutrients with longer tap roots.”
The USDA NRCS Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant program supports projects that expand markets for climate-smart products, leverage greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart commodity production, and provide direct benefits to production agriculture, including for small and underserved producers.
The program awarded a total of 141 grants out of over 1,000 applications in September and December 2022. ANCA’s project is one of 71 successful proposals nationwide that requested $250,000 to $5 million in funding.
“ANCA is grateful to the USDA and NRCS for selecting our project,” said ANCA Executive Director Elizabeth Cooper. “The award is testament to the strong connections we have built with North Country farmers over the years to address their urgent and long-term needs. It also reflects the commitment of local farmers to developing sustainable, climate-smart solutions that support a strong, stable local food system. We applaud their hard work and look forward to working with them to explore agroforestry opportunities that could benefit other small farms across northern New York.”
In Fall 2022, the ADK Food Hub in Tupper Lake, N.Y. received a USDA Local Food Promotion Program grant of $495,000 that will help expand regional processing, distribution and marketing opportunities for local food producers. ANCA staff provided technical assistance with the grant application and will support reporting and mapping efforts as the project progresses.
Cooper said these federal grants are critical for advancing pilot projects that develop and test practices for improving local food systems. “ANCA’s work is informed and inspired by the people and communities we serve,” she said. “We are committed to collaborating with North Country producers and building a more equitable and resilient local food economy that benefits their families and communities.”
ANCA is an independent, nonprofit corporation with a transformational approach to building prosperity across northern New York. Using innovative strategies for food systems, clean energy, small businesses, and equity and inclusion, ANCA delivers targeted interventions that create and sustain wealth and value in local communities.
Photo at top: North Country Creamery in Keeseville, N.Y. will participate in an agroforestry project, coordinated by ANCA, that was awarded a $558,000 USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant. Photo courtesy of North Country Creamery.
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