USDA Awards Grant to NICH
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) have awarded 12 new grants totaling $35 million for science-based solutions and new technology for the specialty crop industry.
Funding is made through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
Of those 12 new grants, the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH) received a planning grant for $47,470 to help develop strategies, tactics and priorities to stimulate consumer horticulture in the U.S.
The industry-wide grassroots movement plans to grow the practice of gardening, both indoors and out, by 20 percent by 2025.
The grant was co-authored by Ellen Bauske, senior public service associate, Department of Plant Pathology/Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture, and Gail Langellotto, associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University.
“By creating one, cohesive voice, NICH will raise awareness of consumer horticulture and help those in all segments of horticulture be more successful in leveraging public funding to help stimulate the entire industry,” Bauske said.
Currently there are five legislatively mandated SCRI programs, including pollinator protection, focused on production of ornamental, nursery and food crops. However, there are no legislatively mandated programs that specifically support end-use consumer horticulture.
According to Langellotto, NICH plans to echo and capitalize on the success of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. The alliance is a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products.
NICH’s vision is to increase consumer horticulture by cultivating a passion and deeper appreciation for plants in our daily lives and increase a universal demand for gardening from research and extension grants at universities to attendance at public gardens and foot traffic in garden centers.
NICH is a consortium of industry leaders who are creating a unified voice to promote the benefits and value of horticulture. NICH brings together academia, government, industry and nonprofits to cultivate the growth and development of a healthy world through landscapes, gardens and plants – indoors and out.
For more information and to join the cause, visit NICH at www.consumerhort.org.