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USDA Community Food Project

By Sylvia Hamilton,2014-08-21 18:50
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USDA Community Food Project

    2. Table of Contents

     Pages

    1) Proposal Cover Page

    2) Table of Contents

    3) Project Summary Form

    4) Project Description…………………………………………1-12 5) Reference…………………………………………………...12 6) Appendix to Project Description……………………………13 7) Key Personal………………………………………………..14 8) Collaborative Arrangements (Letters of Support)…………15-25 9) Conflict of Interest List……………………………………..26 10) Budget………………………………………………………27 11) Budget narrative…………………………………………….28-29 12) Matching…………………………………………………….30 13) Current and Pending Support……………………………….30 14) Assurance Statement………………………………………..31 15) Compliance with the

    National Environmental Policy Act…………………………32 16) Page B, Proposal Cover Page, Personal Data

    on Project Director…………………………………………..33

Executive Summary

    Children growing up in Birmingham currently face an epidemic. A recent finding in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey stated that youth in Birmingham eat fewer fresh vegetables and have a higher rate of early childhood obesity than almost any other city. In response to this, Jones Valley Urban Farm is creating the Growing Urban Food Connections program (GUFC). In conjunction with converting an entire city block in downtown Birmingham into a model urban farm, GUFCP will enable JVUF to become a permanent part of the fabric of downtown Birmingham and expand our current programs. The three main areas we will address are: high school agri-science education, nutritional education, and community food security.

    This program will create direct linkages between urban food production and low-income households in Birmingham’s ‘central city’ community. The involvement of these

    residents will revolve around the creation of the Community Food Advisory Committee (CFAC) and a sliding-scale Community Supported Agriculture project (CSA). As a result of GUFC, these households will have access to high quality healthy food, new economic opportunities, and an empowered sense of community involvement.

    Birmingham is fertile ground for food security program and has not received the attention it needs to address the issues. JVUF has grown over the past 4 years and is now poised to blossom into a truly community-based responsive project, something Birmingham desperately wants and needs. With the assistance of the GUFC, JVUF will be able to provide long-term food security solutions to Birmingham’s ‘central city.’

4. Project Description

    1) Community to Be Served and the Needs to Be Addressed (Statement

    of Need)

    The community we are targeting is actually a relatively ‘new’ neighborhood. Unlike the other neighborhoods JVUF has worked with in the past - Southside neighborhood or the East Avondale neighborhood of Birmingham that both have a long-time residents - the ‘central city’ community of Birmingham has recently undergone a radical transformation on two fronts. The public housing community that has made up the core of ‘central city’

    for the last 50 years (Metropolitan Gardens) has recently been transformed by a Hope VI grant. This entailed tearing down the old public housing and rebuilding a ‘mixed-

    income’ community. In addition, the once ‘vacant’ warehouse district in downtown has

    recently been converted into a ‘loft’ residential community.

    The combination of these two changes in the demographic make-up of ‘Central

    City’ offers a number of exciting challenges and opportunities. The foremost challenge is

    to identify the needs correctly for a community of people that have not lived in the area of long. The opportunity is to provide a unique ‘mixing’ ground for one of Birmingham’s first truly ‘integrated’ neighborhoods. From a food security perspective,

    this is particularly exciting. While some residents will have enough resources to provide for their needs adequately, their neighbors may not. It is our primary goal as to make sure all these residents know how and where to get food that is fresh, healthy, and affordable.

     thAlabama’s Health Challenges As of 2005 Alabama ranks 45 According to the United

    Health Foundation America’s Health Rankings in national health status due to the high

    rates of obesity (28.4) and diabetes (8.7%), increasing rates of children in poverty, and high premature death rate (9,960 years before age 75 lost per 100,000). In the past year in Alabama the per capita public health spending increased from $147 to $159 per person while the percentage of children in poverty increased also increased from 22.3 percent to 24. Since 1990, the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled, going from 12.3 percent to the current 28.4%.

Focus on City of Birmingham, Alabama

     Birmingham City Alabama U.S.

    Percent African-American 73.5 21.2 16.1

    Percent on Disability 27.6 23.2 19.3

    Percent Below Poverty

     Families 20.9 12.5 9.2

     Individuals 24.7 16.1 12.4

     Children <18 years 35.4 21.2 16.1

    Over a third of Birmingham city children live in families below the poverty level. Younger generations, especially among the lower income communities have been shown to be becoming increasingly reliant on lesser nutritious convenience and fast foods. In conjunction with the tendency for Alabama children to eat the fewest fruits and vegetables of other states surveyed, Alabama children living in poverty are at even

    greater risk for health complications that can be easily prevented by dietary improvements and educational intervention. Now more than ever nutritional education is needed to help Birmingham youth stop and reverse these negative health trends. Gardening activities also provide children with much needed physical activity.

Educational Programs Promote Long-term Program Sustainability Targeting youth

    with educational programs and school field trips helps to build interest and awareness in the economic and nutritional possibilities of improving food security through local food production. Providing opportunities for local high school students to work and participate in community garden programs further establishes a tradition of community-based food production and entrepreneurship. Long-term, self-driven program sustainability depends on maintaining community involvement and continuing to make the community garden accessible to local, school-age children.

The Community ‘Central city neighborhood’ The 12-block downtown development

    includes more than the 637 units of mixed-income housing. Sixty percent of the residences fall under the affordable housing program. Park Place and other Hope VI projects look to create mixed-use, diverse, vibrant neighborhoods conducive to community-driven projects such as the Gardens of Park Place. As of this grant writing the neighborhood is currently continuing to develop and take in residents. The demographic of the immediate area is expected to resemble that of Birmingham city (see table) primarily composed of African American low to moderate-income families and seniors. A greater percentage than at the State or National level of children living at or below the poverty level is also expected for the neighborhood.

    2) The Organizations Involved in the Project

    Jones Valley Urban Farm (JVUF)

    JVUF is a non-profit community-based project in its fourth year of operation. The project seeks to improve the quality of life for residents of Birmingham in three ways: urban restoration, organic food production, and environmental education. These three objectives have been accomplished by converting three urban properties into organic production farms, creating an agri-science course for local high school students, and helping to start the Community Food Security Coalition of Jefferson County. JVUF’s

    education program, called the Arts and Science of Agriculture Program (ASAP), was partially funded by a USDA Secondary Agricultural Educations grant. It was implemented in 2003 and the grant was completed in 2005. ASAP is continuing to run both summer and academic year programs.

     JVUF is now in a position to expand by taking over an entire city block and developing a model demonstration urban farm in the heart of a Hope VI neighborhood. This project, called The Gardens of Park Place, will house all future urban gardening and education programs for JVUF, including The Growing Urban Food Connections Project (GUFCP). This innovative new project will be modeled on our past success of collaboration and low-income residents will help develop each objective and their input throughout the project will guide us in our future goals.

    All of these accomplishments have linked urban households directly with their food system, either by providing food directly, educating urban youth about agri-science, or expanding capacity for residents to produce their own food. The key to these successes has been the extensive collaborations JVUF developed.

    The Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA), a public magnet school located in

    Birmingham’s Central City. ASFA provides specific training in the arts and sciences to a wide range of students from diverse ethic and economic backgrounds. ASFA and JVUF developed a collaboration in 2003 to provide an accredited science course (ASAP) for high school juniors and seniors. We have run the program every summer and also developed an academic year program by developing a school garden on the ASFA campus. ASAP will continue as both a summer course and academic year course.

    The YMCA, located one block from JVUF’s new urban farm (the Gardens of Park Place), we are in a unique position to develop collaborations with their ‘after-

    school’ programs as well as summer camps. The YMCA recently underwent a Five million dollar retrofit that includes a ‘teaching’ kitchen. The Y has agreed to develop

    collaborative programs centered on teaching students about food production at the Gardens of Park Place and continuing with culinary education at the YMCA (see Seed 2 Plate).

    The Community Food Security Coalition of Jefferson County (CFSCJC), a

    response to the recognition that there are ‘food insecure’ communities in Birmingham.

    This coalition comprises a dozen NGO’s and faith-based organizations, such as Magic

    City Harvest, Community Kitchens, Greater Birmingham Ministries, Independent Presbyterian Church, Urban Ministries, and many others. The goal of the coalition is to promote access for all community residents to a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice. The Coalition will work closely with the JVUF to develop a Community Food Assessment Committee and help implementing a Central City community food assessment.

    In-Town, a collaborative response to the Hope VI redevelopment of the

    Metropolitan Gardens in downtown Birmingham, adjacent to JVUF’s Gardens of Park

    Place. The organization will coordinate activities between the various NGO’s involved with the Hope VI project (called Park Place.) In-town will assist JVUF in developing the Community Food Advisory Committee and act as a liaison between the management of Park Place and JVUF.

    Central City Neighborhood Association, the neighborhood association that

    comprises ‘downtown’ Birmingham. These neighbors include the new ‘Loft’ district, the new Park Place mixed-income community, and the ‘financial’ district. The neighborhood

    president, Toni Leeth, will be a critical link between the low-income households in the Central City and the Community Food Advisory Committee.

    The James 1 Rushton Foundation (J1RF), own the city block that JVUF will

    develop into the Gardens of Park Place. J1RF developed a successful community garden 12 years ago for low-income residents of the community. However, when the Hope VI project tore down the old Metropolitan Public Housing Neighborhood, J1RF developed collaboration with JVUF to utilize the vacant community garden. After 3 years of JVUF farming the former community garden, JVUF proposed the idea for the Gardens of Park

    Place. J1RF agreed to the idea of converting the entire city block into an urban farm and are currently providing funding for its implementation.

    The Culinard Institute, a local college providing job-training skills in the

    culinary arts. JVUF began collaboration in 2003 with ASAP students visiting the ‘teaching’ kitchens and learning to prepare the produce they had grown. This idea grew in the Seed 2 Plate fieldtrip, where the Culinard brings out ‘mobile’ kitchens for students to cook the produce they helped grow on-site.

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Department of Nutrition Sciences, Dr. Amanda Brown works with the Community Food Security Coalition of Jefferson County and agreed to supply Dietetic Interns for the Seed 2 Plate fieldtrip. These interns will help teach the students how to transfer what they learn on the fieldtrip with their daily lives.

    Heifer International, Gus Heard Hughes, the Southeast Field Representative, has worked closely with JVUF over the last four years, assisting the project with technical advice, funds for internships, and we are currently developing a 3 year nutrition-based project. Heifer is also a partner in the Community Food Security Coalition of Jefferson County.

    3) Project Goals and Objectives

    The three primary objectives of the Growing Urban Food Connections program revolve around making sure all residents in the ‘Central City’ community of Birmingham

    understand the importance of and have access to healthy food.

    1) Agri-science education

    Working in conjunction with the Alabama School of Fine Arts and the Birmingham city schools, JVUF will expand our innovative Arts and Science of Agriculture Program (ASAP). This high school agri-science course teaches inner-city youth about sustainable food production and their connection to the food system. We will expand this course to include students from other inner-city schools and offer course scholarships for low-income participants. There will be a total of 80 students participating in ASAP over the two year project duration, with at least one-quarter representing low-income households. This will be coordinated with the schools administration.

    In addition to expanding the number of students participating in ASAP each summer, JVUF will provide the ASAP curriculum to other schools through a series of Training the Trainers course. Finally, working in conjunction with various national urban agriculture organizations, JVUF will co-host a Sustainable Agriculture Educators Conference for Secondary Schools. This conference will provide different organizations the opportunity to network, share curricula, and discover what is lacking in the current education system for high school agri-science courses.

2) Nutritional Education

    JVUF will work with the Culinard Institute of Virginia College to develop various nutrition education programs. These programs will include the Seed 2 Plate fieldtrip for elementary and secondary inner-city schools. 100 students per month will come to the urban farm and participate in growing food, harvesting produce, and preparing the food

    with a mobile kitchen unit. The total number of students participating will be 1600 over the two year grant period.

    JVUF will also seek new ways to connect inner-city children, their parents, and the food system. We will use the Jefferson County Food Assessment as an opportunity to connect with food-insecure communities to determine what programs would be of most value to them and most likely to lead to long-term behavioral changes, such as Food to School programs. JVUF is currently working with Heifer International, a collaborator on previous JVUF projects, to explore partnerships around these programs.

3)Food Security

    Focusing on the ‘Central City’ neighborhood adjacent to our new demonstration urban

    farm, JVUF will develop a Community Food Advisory Council to assist with developing innovative responses to the needs of this neighborhood. The primary project will be developing a sliding-sale Community Supported Agriculture project (CSA). This will supply local households with fresh organic produce at a price that they can afford. In the first year, 25 households will participate. The second year 50 shares will be offered and in the following years, JVUF will offer 100 shares. Possible additional projects included an Inner-city Youth After-market Product program, with JVUF hiring 5 low-income youth each year to grow, process, and market organic pesto, preserves, and salsa. The total number of youths involved over the grant period will be 10.

    JVUF is also currently helping to develop The Community Food Security Coalition of Jefferson County (CFSCJC). This coalition is developing the capacity for a county wide food security assessment in the next year. JVUF’s primary role in the coalition will be to respond to the needs of communities stated in the assessment with regards to developing new community gardens, farmers markets, and entrepreneurial urban agricultural projects.

    4) Activities to Achieve the Goals

    1)Agri-Science

    *GUFC will provide JVUF an opportunity to expand a successful existing program to meet the needs of low-income residents in Birmingham’s ‘Central City.’ In 2003, JVUF created this collaborative education program with a ‘Central City’ public magnet school called the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA). It’s an accredited experiential education course called the Arts and Science of Agriculture (ASAP) and it's offered for 2 semesters each summer, with each semester lasting 4 weeks. The students come out to the urban farm 5 days a week for 5 hours and help with all aspects of production, such as sowing seeds, weeding, and harvesting. Twice a week, they have lectures on various agroecology subjects, take field trips, and present research projects.

    *In 2004, ASFA and JVUF expanded the education class to include an academic year component, with 2 semesters each year in fall and spring. The course is based around the school garden JVUF helped develop and offers ASFA students an opportunity to receive a science credit for this experiential course at their own school.

    *JVUF will expand both the summer and academic year ASAP course in conjunction with the Alabama School of Fine Arts and the City schools of Birmingham. This High School agri-science course teaches inner-city youth about sustainable food production and their connection to the food system. We will expand this course to include students

from all ‘central city’ schools. Non –‘central city’ students will be charges $250 per

    semester for ASAP while all ‘central city’ students will receive a scholarship. This arraignment allows JVUF to move towards creating a ‘self-sustaining’ program while

    still providing education programs for low-income students.

    *JVUF will provide the ASAP curriculum to other schools through a series of Training the Trainers course.

    *Working in conjunction with various national urban agriculture organizations, such as Georgia Organics, Boston’s Food Project, and Life Lab. JVUF will co-host a Sustainable

    Agriculture Educators Conference for Secondary Schools. This conference will provide different organizations the opportunity to network, share curricula, and discover what is lacking in the current education system for high school agri-science courses.

2) Nutritional Education

    *Recognizing the need to address the critical health issues facing the ‘Central City’ low-

    income households, JVUF will work with the Culinard Institute and the YMCA to develop nutrition education programs. These will include the Seed 2 Plate fieldtrip for elementary and secondary inner-city schools during both the academic year and with YMCA’s summer camp.

    *The basic component of the project will be a half-day nutritional experiential field-trip offered to Elementary and Middle Schools in the Greater Birmingham Area. Seed 2 Plate will be offered from August through May and class size will be restricted to 20 students a day to ensure a true experiential experience for each participant. *Students will arrive at JVUF at 9:30 a.m. JVUF staff will provide students with an introduction to the farm; including our history, safety-guidelines, and the program objectives. From 10:00 to 12:00 students will break into small groups and rotate through a series of stations, each focusing on aspect of organic food production. These stations will include soil preparation, seed propagation, compost production, weed and pest management, and harvesting. Students will learn about each subject while actually participating in the activity. Once each group has moved through all the stations, students will take the harvested produce to the ‘mobile kitchen’ provided by the Culinard.

    *From 12:00 to 12:30, staff from the Culinard will work with students to prepare the produce and cook lunch. Student will again learn about the Culinary Arts while actually assisting the chef. At 12:30, the students will help set the tables at the farm for a feast and serve their own food. While eating lunch, a nutritionist from UAB’s Dieticians

    program will provide fun interactive ways for the students to see why the food they are eating is different from the food they usually eat for lunch. This will include information on the benefits of eating fresh organic produce, the benefits of eating ‘lightly’ cooked or raw food, and finally on how to translate these benefits back to their home. *Students will leave at 1:00 with publications about good eating habits, contact information for their parents to get involved with the farm or community gardens in their neighborhood, and seedlings to start their own garden. In addition, parents will be given $10 produce vouchers that they can reimburse for JVUF produce at either the farmers market or the farm stand. Finally, students will be asked to keep a food journal for the week following the fieldtrip. Students will document what they eat at each meal and encouraged to submit their journal for a contest. The most creative journal that shows good eating habits will earn the student a JVUF t-shirt.

    *Non-‘central city’ schools will be charged $10 per student to offset the cost of the fieldtrip and pay for lunch supplies. JVUF will offer fieldtrip subsidies as well as transportation assistances to all ‘central-city’ schools. By charging a minimal fee for the

    fieldtrip, JVUF will be able to create a self-sufficient program by the second year of operation.

3) Food Security

    *The key to successfully reducing food insecurity in Birmingham’s ‘Central City’ is knowing what the real issues are. JVUF will seek this information through the Community Food Advisory Committee. This group is being developed currently and will comprise a wide cross-section of the community, such as neighborhood association representatives, church groups, low-income residents, business owners, and public officials. This committee will be an avenue to direct community participation by encouraging representatives to get more people involved and learn what resources the community possesses to address their own needs.

    *The purpose of the CFAC is to provide direct involvement with all current JVUF programs and, more importantly, to direct all future programs. This will be implemented by the CFAC serving as a potential pool for JVUF’s Board of Directors. By the end of

    2007, one quarter of the Board will be comprised of CFAC members.

    *JVUF is also currently helping to develop The Food Security Coalition of Jefferson County (FSCJC). This coalition is developing the capacity for a county wide food security assessment in the next year. JVUF’s primary role in the coalition will be to respond to the needs of communities stated in the assessment with regards to developing new community gardens, farmers markets, and entrepreneurial urban agricultural projects. With the involvement of the CFAC, a community food security assessment will be planned for Birmingham’s ‘Central City.’ CFAC will provide the direct linkages to the low-income households in the area and help develop culturally appropriate means for assessing community needs. Possible projects include developing a ‘Youth

    Entrepreneurial Business’ program.

    *With an assessment complete, JVUF will be ready to respond to whatever strategies the CFSCJC and CFAC see as most critical. Possible program include Youth Entrepreneurial Business Opportunities. This would be an inner-city Youth After-market Product program, with JVUF hiring low-income youth to grow, process, and market organic pesto, preserves, and salsa. We will seek the advice of various successful programs around the country to best plan and implement this program. *In addition to providing these ‘soft’ programs for addressing ‘central city’ food security, JVUF will also develop a Community Supported Agriculture program with a sliding-fee to allow low-income residents access to the fresh organic produce grown at the Gardens of Park Place. The CSA will start in the spring of 2007 by offering 25 ‘central city’

    households the opportunity to pay $500 in exchange for a box of what ever’s fresh on the

    farm for 20 weeks. Working with the Housing Authority, and basing the program on Chicago’s Growing Power CSA ‘Market Basket’ program, we will develop a system for giving low-income households the ability to pay an affordable amount for their box of fresh vegetables. In the second year, we will expand the CSA to 50 members and being asking ‘market’ rate households to donate money to pay for the subsidized CSA shares. In the third year, we will grow the CSA to 100 members offer at least 25 of these to low-

income households. This program puts fresh sustainably produced food in the hands of

the people that need it the most.

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