The Sebastian County Conservation District recently received funds to help with projects in Crawford County.
Karen Brazzeal, marketing director for the Sebastian County Conservation District, said the district was awarded a $50,000 urban agriculture conservation grant by the National Association of Conservation Districts on Feb. 4. Jeremy Prater, urban programs coordinator for the district, said it is a partnership grant.
“Previously, the work we did last year was directly to the Sebastian County Conservation District,” Prater said. “This year, we have partnered with Crawford County and their conservation district, and the grant will be managed through Sebastian County just because we have the staff and the resources, and … we’ve had experience, but all of the money will be focused on Crawford County.”
Prater said this is a way of expanding the programming of the Crawford County Conservation District. The Sebastian County Conservation District has had some projects in Crawford County in the past.
“We have a really great relationship with their board, so this grant will allow Crawford County to expand their efforts with their existing community gardens and pollinator projects and other conservation work, and then kind of redouble our efforts in the existing gardens,” Prater said.
In regard to the projects for which the grant will be used, Prater said the district knows for sure it will be working more with Comprehensive Juvenile Services on its garden in downtown Van Buren, Cedarville Elementary School on its school garden and Mulberry High School with its downtown garden. However, the district hopes to expand out from there.
“There’s a potential, we haven’t formally worked anything out with them yet, but Alma is about to have the gift of a really big, new city park, and we’d love to be able to partner with them on putting in either some trees or just whatever conservation work we can put in on that, but that’s not formal yet,” Prater said. “It’s just a really excellent opportunity since it’s a brand new, just on the drawing board, big city park.”
An NACD news release dated Feb. 4 states the organization announced $1 million in urban agriculture conservation funding for 20 conservation districts across 14 states. NACD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service have partnered since 2016, creating the Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative to increase technical capacity in developed or developing areas.