Jacksonville, Florida – The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District (DSWCD) announced today it was awarded an urban agriculture conservation grant through a partnership with the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to boost technical capacity nationwide.
The DSWCD was one of 20 conservation districts across 14 states to receive funding. The $50,000 grant will provide initial funding for Regeneration Park, a green infrastructure and community stewardship project focused on demonstrating urban agriculture, cultivating environmental stewardship and empowering residents to build with nature for social, economic and environmental health. The project, located on the west side of Jacksonville’s urban core, will transform half an acre of currently unused public land into an ecological demonstration site along the S-Line link of Groundwork Jacksonville’s Emerald Trail near the Sugar Hill Mosaic. The project will be situated less than a mile from the recently completed EPA cleanup activities at the Fairfax Street Wood Treaters Superfund site and the DSWCD has been working closely with the City of Jacksonville’s Parks and Recreation department to develop an appropriate plan to regenerate the associated soils and enhance the affiliated community.
“The District is committed to regenerating ecosystems in our affected neighborhoods”, said Jennifer Casey, DSWCD Chair. “We are thrilled that the Regeneration Park project was funded by NACD and will bring technical assistance from soil scientists, farmers and conservationists directly to residents right where they live and work.”
The project also features a bioswale installation, the creation of a pollinator habitat and a series of educational workshops. The UF/IFAS Duval County Extension, the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board, Groundwork Jacksonville, St. Johns Riverkeeper, NativeJax, and Jacksonville Youth Works have provided support to the project.
NACD and NRCS established the Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative in 2016 to help conservation districts and their partners provide much-needed technical assistance for community-oriented agricultural projects in both urban and rural contexts. This is the fifth round of funding with grants totaling $5.6 million for 122 projects across 35 states.
About the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District: For over 67 years, under the authority created by the Soil Conservation Act passed by the Florida Legislature in 1937, the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District has promoted responsible management and conservation of natural resources by delivering conservation technology and education to local landowners and users and promoting the wise use of land and best management practices that will conserve, improve and sustain the natural resources of Duval County.
About the NACD: The National Association of Conservation Districts is the non-profit organization that represents the nation’s 3,000 conservation districts, their state associations and the 17,000 men and women who serve on their governing boards. For more than 70 years, local conservation districts have worked with cooperating landowners and managers of private working lands to help them plan and apply effective conservation practices. For more information about NACD, visit: www.nacdnet.org.
About the USDA NRCS: The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service is a major partner of soil and water conservation districts, nation-wide. Since the Dust Bowl of the 1930's, the NRCS (formerly SCS) has worked with conservation districts throughout the US to help landowners and land users, as well as Federal, State, Tribal, Community groups, and local units of government plan and implement conservation practices, where appropriate, to effectively and positively address the associated natural resource concerns.
For our March Volunteer of the Month, we would like to recognize Nassau Senior Forester James (Jim) Tootle. Jim is an avid supporter of the Fred B. Miller, Jr. Regional Envirothon and has mentored hundreds of high school students in environmental science as they have participated in our annual competition. His dedication as a friend of the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District and his willingness to volunteer each year do not go unnoticed! We are grateful that he works hard to impart to the next generation his hard-earned wisdom from his many years as a county forester.
More about Jim:
Jacksonville, FL — Duval Soil and Water Conservation District announced today the opening of applications for its 2021 Start Farming Mentorship program which will support new farmers by providing tours of local farm operations and onsite workshops about sustainable practices, including water conservation, composting and permaculture. The year-long program, made possible by a $2,500 grant award from the National Association of Conservation Districts and volunteer mentors, will select 15 applicants to explore farming opportunities in Duval County.
“In an urban district like ours, new farmers often have not grown up on the farm, so it is essential that they have mentors to provide advice and guidance,” said Jennifer Casey, Chair. “Beginning farmers will now have the opportunity to explore diverse farm operations and learn how sustainable regenerative solutions like composting, permaculture and rainwater catchment can help them overcome some of the challenges of starting a farming endeavor.”
Over the course of the year, participants will take guided tours of four farms, from an urban farm in a food dessert to a rural commercial operation. In addition, each will receive a Sustainable Solutions Kit valued at over $150 which will include resources for water conservation, a compost kit, and seed to attract beneficial pollinators. Beyond the training, participants will network with the local agricultural community and with agency personnel offering conservation funding assistance to growers and producers.
The Start Farming Mentorship program is open to new farmers who reside in Duval County and are interested in starting a farm business. Preference will be given to past attendees of the District’s annual Start Farming events. Applications are only accepted online at duvalsoilandwater.com and must be submitted by March 15, 2021.
Note: The 2-hour workshops will be facilitated by Duval SWCD and partners which include Apple Rabbit Compost and NativeJax Permaculture Design. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Duval Soil and Water Conservation District
For over 67 years, Duval Soil and Water Conservation District has promoted responsible management and conservation of natural resources by delivering conservation technology and education to local landowners and users and promoting the wise use of land and best management practices that will conserve, improve and sustain the natural resources of Duval County.
This Black History Month, we would like to highlight Caria Hawkins the owner of Abundant Harvest Farms. Caria has been a long time supporter of The Duval Soil & Water Conservation District and a panelist at our previous Start Farming events. Caria also owns one of few Black-Owned Farms in Northeast Florida.
Hawkins was featured in a Feeding Northeast Florida article on African American’s and Agriculture. Here is an expert.
| There were nearly a million black farmers in America by 1920. Yet today, of the country’s 3.4 million total farmers, only 1.3%, or 45,508, are black, according to the USDA 2017 Census of Agriculture report. “Agriculture and African American history go back for centuries,” said Hawkins hopes that more African American youth become involved in farming. “I really feel like our future depends on our African American youth and if the craft is not handed down, we’re going to lose something in between,” said Hawkins. “Our community’s health and independence rely on consistent access to nutritious, affordable food.” |
Abundant Harvest is Nestled in the heart of a pecan orchard and surrounded by 40-acres of green pastures, Abundant Harvests farm is located in Baker County, 30 minutes west of Jacksonville, Fl.
Abundant Harvest farms four acres of vegetables, greens, & herbs grown without the use of herbicides, pesticides, insecticide, and commercial fertilizers, that is also GMO-free. In addition, the farm has free range chicken as well as pasture raised cows and pigs that graze on grass and all natural based systems. Abundant Harvests engages in farming practices that protect the environment, public health, and animal welfare. This includes use of two artesian wells to irrigate crops and water our animals, the implementation of crop rotation, and bio intensive integrated pest management.
You can purchase the local produce and famous pecan roasted coffee at Riverside Arts Market and at The Fresh Produce Market by Abundant Harvests Farm at the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) Terminal
Please visit follow Abundant Harvest Farms on Facebook, Visit their website at http://www.abundantharvests.farm
Photo Credits (Abundant Harvest Farms & Edible Northeast Florida
Read the article:
Farming mentorship program offers move toward self-sufficiency during pandemic - First Coast News
WASHINGTON – The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Second Vice President Kim LaFleur announced the 2021 recipients of the Friends of NACD District Grants program during NACD’s 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting on February 9th.
The Friends of NACD program was established in 2009 to support the nation’s nearly 3,000 conservation districts through cash donations to NACD.
Now in its second round of funding, the Friends of NACD District Grants program is an initiative of the NACD District Operations and Member Services (DOMS) Committee that enables a portion of funds raised through individual donations in support of locally-led conservation to be awarded to four conservation district projects of up to $2,500 each.
“Last year, in our inaugural district grants program, we were able to help support conservation districts from across the country,” LaFleur said. “We’re excited to offer a second round of funding, knowing that our conservation districts thrive on this partnership.”
The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District in Florida will begin a farming mentorship program to support new farmers by providing tours of diverse farm operations and onsite workshops about sustainable practices, including water conservation, composting and permaculture.
The Catoosa County Conservation District in Georgia will host a rain barrel workshop to encourage and promote residential water conservation.
In Connecticut, the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District will develop land owned by the conservation district into an outdoor conservation showcase and education center for area residents, schools, students, and conservation volunteers and professionals.
The Beaver County Conservation District in Oklahoma will commemorate the devastating March 7, 2020 wildfire with a one-day “block party”-style event, using speakers, vendors, demonstrations, games and entertainment to encourage community residents to participate in wildfire prevention and learn how to prepare themselves when wildfire strikes again.
“We have seen how these district grants help support locally-led conservation delivery in communities across the nation,” LaFleur said. “NACD is proud to support our members in expanding their reach and advancing their mission.”
Learn more about the district grants program on NACD’s website.
About the National Association of Conservation Districts:
The National Association of Conservation Districts is the nonprofit organization that represents the nation’s 3,000 conservation districts, their state and territory associations and the 17,000 men and women who serve on their governing boards. For more than 70 years, local conservation districts have worked with cooperating landowners and managers of private working lands to help them plan and apply effective conservation practices. For more information about NACD, visit: www.nacdnet.org.
RE: Proposed Green Infrastructure Improvements at Moncrief Rd. and W. 13th St.
The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District requests public comment on a proposed project on the west side of Jacksonville’s Urban Core. The project would be situated on half an acre of currently unused public land in Durkeeville near the S-Line and the Sugar Hill Mosaic at Moncrief Rd. and W. 13th St.
Regeneration Park is a proposed green infrastructure and community stewardship project which will create a safe space to demonstrate urban agriculture, cultivate environmental stewardship and empower residents to build with nature for social, economic and environmental health. Our network of conservation and community partners will work together to provide education, outreach, research, hands-on conservation, native seed collection, and technical assistance that results in a resilient and sustainable system supported by a thriving biodiverse habitat. In addition to planned educational workshops, establishing a bioswale and pollinator habitat, and installing signage that explains the functions of the green infrastructure within the park, the Duval SWCD will also host annual celebrations of Stewardship Week and quarterly community cleanups. While the first phase of this project would focus on green infrastructure, a potential second phase would incorporate grey infrastructure including a pavilion, ADA-compliant pathway, benches and solar lighting.
The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District has been working with the City of Jacksonville’s Parks and Recreation department to develop an appropriate plan for the site which is less than a mile from the recently completed EPA cleanup activities which addressed soil and sediment contamination at the Fairfax Street Wood Treaters Superfund site. Additional improvements are underway through the City of Jacksonville’s decision to fund and approve the creation of Groundwork Jacksonville’s Emerald Trail system, which will be 30 miles of trails, greenways and parks that encircle the Urban Core. Regeneration Park would be situated along the Emerald Trail's Biodiversity Corridor.
We would like to invite individuals and neighborhood organizations to submit comments, questions and concerns by email to email@example.com. Your feedback is important and will direct our efforts for an initial grant application to secure funding for the project. We will look forward to continued conversation in the months ahead!
Duval Soil and Water Conservation District
COJ Parks and Recreation
UF/IFAS Duval County Extension
St. Johns Riverkeeper
Jacksonville Youth Works, Inc.
NativeJax Permaculture Design
Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board
Press Release - Conservation District Awarded Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant
Now Hiring - Urban Agriculture Coordinator
Press Release - Conservation District to Break Ground at Regeneration Park
We are excited to again host the annual Speech and Poster Contest! This local contest allows students to compete in the state, and even national contest under the same topic. The winners of the Duval County Speech Contest receives a cash prize, plus one student will get an invite to compete regionally and statewide for grades 6-12th. The poster contest is an additional way to compete in the competition for grades K-12.
This year the Speech & Poster Contest will be 100% Virtual. Students must submit their entry online for judging.
The topic for both competitions is "HEALTHY FORESTS – HEALTHY COMMUNITIES?" and speeches are to be no more than 5-7 minutes. Independent research on the topic works to further educate students in conservation and natural resources, while public speaking provides a host of additional benefits. Artistic skills are called on for the poster contest, and all ages are encouraged to participate. Cash prizes for top winners.
We hope that you, a friend, a relative, or a student you know will consider entering in the 2021 annual Joe B. Forshee, Jr. Speech Contest and Poster Contest for Duval County.
UPDATE: Entry Deadline has been extended until May 3, 2021.
Please Download the ENTRY FORMS below.
To enter the Poster Contest, please email completed sign up form and good quality photos of your poster to show the front and back of your poster and ALL of its edges.
To enter the Speech Contest, please email completed sign up form and Video of you reciting your speech via an attached file or YouTube.com link to firstname.lastname@example.org
2021 Speech Contest:
First place - $ 50.00
Second place - $ 30.00
Third place - $ 20.00
2021 Poster contest:
Categories - K-1; 2-3; 4-6; 7-9; 10-12
First place - $ 40.00 for each Category
Second place - $ 20.00 for each Category
Third place - $ 10.00 for each Category
Speech Contest Form
Poster Contest Form