Tallahassee City Commissioner voted to accept a $150,000 grant from the Knight Foundation at their November 13 meeting. The grant is intended to support the City’s Vacant-to-Vibrant program and help launch City Farm TLH, an urban farming initiative.
“The funding seeks to transform blighted, vacant properties into new ventures and amenities,” as stated in the meeting agenda. “The Knight Foundation grant supports a two-year commitment from the City to develop a pilot urban farm incubator across a network of vacant lots, create a sustainable urban farm business certificate program, and launch an inaugural group of participants with a focus on a revitalizing neighborhood.”
The Vacant-to-Vibrant program was developed by the Sustainability and Community Preservation Department to revitalize vacant, neglected properties. Outcomes of the program could include converting graffiti into murals or creating community gardens.
The proposed City Farm TLH initiative will build off of the Vacant-to-Vibrant program to redesign vacant properties into productive urban farms. With community involvement in the program, staff hopes to combat food insecurity and promote economic growth in the area.
According to the agenda, the top three components of the two-year urban farming pilot project are launching the pilot farm, developing a certificate program for urban farm businesses, and locating a concentration of vacant lots to use as an incubator network of urban farms.
The City plans to use the Knight Foundation grant to construct the pilot farm, design the certificate program, and pay for two part-time positions, staff reports.
The pilot farm will be an example for the rest of the project and will focus especially on economic and environmental sustainability. The certificate program, which will be tuition-based, will teach participants both urban farming techniques and essential business skills.
In the months after laying the groundwork of the City Farm TLH program, staff will continue to develop it with an emphasis on involving people from the pilot neighborhood.