A grant earmarked for hydroponic urban agriculture was awarded to Lawrence County Social Services on Oct. 2 by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
“It’s a prime opportunity to take part in,” Chris Frye, the community supports coordinator for the Lawrence County Community Action Partnership (LCCAP).
The grant, totaling $38,300, will be used to purchase materials and educational supplies relating to hydroponic growing.
Growing plants hydroponically means they will be grown in a mineral nutrient solution and water instead of soil.
Frye says in order “to combat developmental delays” of children attending Ben Franklin Early Learning Center, they created a hydroponic garden in a classroom to begin growing vegetables. The classroom garden was stationed at the center for two years until LCCAP acquired the YDC building, now called their Frew Mill campus, and moved their gardening program there.
Fry says some of the goals of the garden are to promote nutrition and the importance of eating nutrient dense foods.
The grant comes as preliminary funding from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Farm Bill, which has six initiatives it wants to address. The Urban Agriculture Grant Program falls under the initiative to “Increase market opportunities and making Pennsylvania the nation’s leading organic state.” This specific grant program has a total of $500,000 to fund 28 projects throughout the state, which aims “to improve agriculture infrastructure in urban areas, the aggregation of product, sharing of resources, and support for community development efforts,” according to the program website.
Frye, who wrote the grant, said the money will also be used to offer opportunities to the members of the community who are interested in building their own urban farms on vacant lots in the city.