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Natural Resources Conservation Service contribution agreement benefits urban farmers, entire watersheds

Urban farm with rows of crops, located in Fort Wayne
Marissa Renz’s urban farm, Plant Happiness, in residential Fort Wayne, Indiana. (Credit: Brandon O'Connor, Public Affairs Specialist)

The Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has provided funding to the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) through a contribution agreement which enables them to work directly with small and urban farmers who tend to have less familiarity with the assistance available to them, as well as their operations’ impact on the water quality in Lake Erie. Through the contribution agreement, Allen County SWCD is able to host trainings, offer technical assistance, set up demonstration plots, and more. NRCS offers this assistance through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and Western Lake Erie Basin Initiative (WLEB) to help farmers establish conservation practices that will combat excess nutrients and runoff entering Lake Erie.

Marissa Renz, a front yard farmer in residential Fort Wayne, Indiana, turned to the Allen County SWCD for additional help understanding the soil on her farm. Through the agreement with NRCS, Allen County SWCD provided free soil testing to Renz and other small and urban farmers throughout the Western Lake Erie Basin, enabling them to make the necessary adjustments to both help their plants flourish and improve water quality in Lake Erie.

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