Urban Ethnic Food Producers Project (Years 2014-2017)

Project Overview

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2014: $15,658.00
Funds awarded in 2015: $16,620.00
Funds awarded in 2016: $16,604.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2017
Grant Recipient: University of the District of Columbia
Region: Northeast
State: Washington, DC
State Coordinator:
Yao Afantchao
University of the District of Columbia


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers, season extension
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance, workshop, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: business planning, community-supported agriculture, farm-to-restaurant, farmers' markets/farm stands, market study, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: aquaponics, hydroponics, organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Soil Management: composting, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, food hubs, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, sustainability measures, urban agriculture, values-based supply chains

    Proposal abstract:

    Purpose: (1) to develop an educational outreach program that will train and sustain, through continuous flow of information, urban ethnic food producers in the District of Columbia; (2) to develop the “Train the Trainer” Program for Ag Extension Educators/Advisors that will share information with growers across the metropolitan Washington Area and in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia for the best sustainable practice in growing ethnic crops.

    Opportunity: The ethnic makeup of the United States is changing rapidly, especially in the Northeast Region. Currently, over 31% of Americans are considered ethnic. The African-born immigrant community has been on the rise in the U.S. for decades. The U.S. Census Bureau's 2005 American Community Survey counted 114,000 black African immigrants in the Washington metropolitan area, accounting for about 11 percent of the area’s total immigrant population, the majority of whom are from West Africa.

    In fact, 75% of ethnic food consumption in the United States is now supported by the mainstream population, fuelling a $75 billion annual industry that accounts for $1 out of every $7 spent on groceries.  Demand for ethnic and specialty crops has increased with increasing immigrant population in the Washington Metropolitan Area (WMA). However, the nearest ethnic and specialty crop farm is an hour away from WMA.


    The proposed activities respond to an increasing number of requests by immigrant population for technical assistance to develop community gardens of ethnic and specialty crops.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Four project participants who are  agricultural  service providers (trainers) will teach 10 urban producers (farmers) each (40 total) in Washington, DC metro area about best practices in sustainable cultivation of African ethnic crops and how to market ethnic crops among local restaurants and consumers, and to assist entrepreneurs to engage in processing/value-addition business plans for ethnic crops.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.