Fresh food and urban agriculture focus of new grants in York City

Jay Holcomb of Wrightsville harvests lettuce at the York County Penn State Master Gardener program's Gardens at John Rudy Park Monday, July 1, 2019. Gardeners were harvesting several fruits and vegetables grown there to be donated to local food pantries. The garden was recognized with a second place award for Excellence in Demonstration Gardens during the International Master Gardeners Conference last month in Valley Forge. Bill Kalina photo

Two new grant opportunities are bringing agriculture into focus for York City.

One supplies the city's elementary students with more fresh fruits and vegetables in order to promote healthier eating and improve education, and the other establishes the state's first Urban Agricultural Grant Fund.

Gov. Tom Wolf awarded nearly $225,000 to the district's eight K-8 schools — part of a $5.5 million total granted across the state from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in 2019.

The grant was divided among the schools: 

  • Davis K-8: $25,242.50
  • Devers K-8: $32,947.50
  • STEAM Academy: $14,317.50
  • Ferguson K-8: $32,832.50
  • Goode K-8: $32,660
  • Hannah Penn K-8: $29,670
  • Jackson K-8: $29,267.50
  • McKinley K-8: $27,657.50

An additional $38,410 was awarded to Lincoln Charter School, and $11,500 was given to Logos Academy in York.

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“Good nutrition is a vital aspect of not only healthy living but of learning and blossoming within the school system," said state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York City, in a news release.

Additionally, Hill-Evans announced the new Urban Agricultural Infrastructure Grant Program enacted by state Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, that establishes the state's first Urban Agricultural Grant Fund.

"It can turn blight into community gardens and help to combat food insecurity that takes place in many of our local neighborhoods," Hill-Evans stated.

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The grant program, open from Aug. 1 through Sept. 6, includes microgrants, single-entity applications and collaborations, according to a news release.

Applicants would be reimbursed for projects focused on developing urban farms and market opportunities, and grants would be awarded for efforts to improve agricultural infrastructure in urban areas and support for community development, for example. 

Individuals, partnerships, associations, businesses and municipal governments are eligible to apply, and more information can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture website,

"The more access to nutritious food we have, the better chance we have of fighting hunger," Hill-Evans said.