People's Garden Initiative Expanded across the Nation
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited a community garden in Baltimore Nov. 10 to announce 10 grants to support 155 People's Gardens in neighborhoods from Maryland to Hawaii, continuing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) efforts to combat malnutrition while supporting local and regional food systems. These sustainable community gardens will give residents direct access to fresh fruits and vegetables in underserved neighborhoods. A lack of access to fresh and nutritious food fuels obesity and domestic food insecurity—a condition where households experience limited or uncertain access to adequate food.
"The simple act of planting a garden can help unite neighborhoods around a common effort and inspire communities to find solutions to challenges facing our country—from hunger to the environment," said Merrigan. "The People's Garden Initiative has demonstrated that one direct and effective way of improving food access is to plant a garden. Since establishing our People's Garden Initiative, we're excited to see more and more people working together to create nurturing communities around these sources of nutritious food."
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) manages the People's Garden Grant Program (PGGP), with funding from the Agriculture Marketing Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The grants announced Nov. 10, totaling $725,000, are the first awards given under the PGGP. USDA received more than 360 proposals requesting more than $4 million.
PGGP was designed to invest in urban and rural areas identified as food deserts or food insecure areas, particularly those with persistent poverty. In addition, PGGP seeks to address health issues closely related to malnutrition, including food insecurity, obesity, diabetes and heart disease, through onsite education programs.
Projects were funded in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio. Grants were awarded to:
- Homer Soil and Water Conservation District, Alaska, $110,500
- Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona, Arizona, $5,000
- Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, California, $29,000
- Denver Urban Gardens, Colorado, $70,000
- Knox Parks, Inc., Connecticut, $50,000
- Heritage Ranch, Inc., Hawaii, $110,500
- Alliance for Community Trees, Inc., Maryland, $150,000
- Towson University, Maryland, $60,000
- Calhoun Conservation District, Michigan, $70,000
- Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, Ohio, $70,000
The People's Garden Initiative is a grassroots effort to grow healthy food, people and communities. There are more than 1,400 People's Gardens across the nation, three U.S. territories and nine foreign countries. USDA is working with more than 600 local organizations to create school gardens, community gardens and small-scale agriculture projects in urban and rural areas, collectively referred to as community-based agriculture.
People's Gardens are located at faith-based centers, on federal leased or owned property, at schools and other places within communities. All produce grown at a People's Garden on USDA owned or leased property is donated to help those in need. To date, the People's Garden has donated more than 1 million pounds of produce to local food banks, food kitchens and other charitable organizations through their 'Share Your Harvest' campaign, whereby USDA invites partners to share their harvests with neighborhood food pantries, kitchens and shelters, which helps improve access to healthy, affordable food at a local level. Search the People's Gardens Interactive Map to find out where our gardens are located. To learn more or to register your community garden as a People's Garden, click here.
For more information, click here.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
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