Agroecological and Climate Smart Crop Production to Enhance Urban Agriculture

Project Overview

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $47,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2023
Grant Recipient: The University of the District of Columbia
Region: Northeast
State: Washington, DC
State Coordinators:
Michael Whyte
The University of the District of Columbia
Mchezaji Axum
University of the District of Columbia (CAUSES)


  • Agronomic: potatoes
  • Fruits: berries (blueberries), berries (brambles), berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: beans, greens (leafy), greens (lettuces), peppers, sweet potatoes
  • Additional Plants: native plants


  • Animal Production: watering systems
  • Crop Production: alley cropping, irrigation, no-till, nutrient management, pollination, pollinator habitat, pollinator health, postharvest treatment, seed saving, water management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency
  • Farm Business Management: agritourism, apprentice/intern training, e-commerce, farm-to-institution, land access
  • Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, competition
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: composting, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: employment opportunities, food hubs, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration

    Proposal abstract:

    The goal of the proposed project is to improve the quality of life, economic opportunity and environment of people in the District of Columbia. The proposed project aims to address the NIFA programs of improving food security and mitigating climate change, and the Sustainable DC goals of increasing green-economy jobs by training, certifying, and expanding the metro's region's agriculture service provider network. 

    As consumers grow more aware about global food systems and the effect food production and access have on our ecosystems, regional agricultural producers have strived to provide consumers with local options grown within (or just outside) major metropolitan areas. Local food production increases the amount of fresh food access. This opening up of production points, does not only positively affect the quality of the produce arriving at retail outlets; it reduces long supply chain constraints and furthers innovation towards more sustainable agriculture systems.  Training and certifying more Agriculture Service Provider's in agroecological and climate smart fruit and vegetable production processes that are more adapted to varied pests and climate challenges presented by the region can lead urban agriculture food production as these methods seek to work with nature, potentially allowing for less added nutrients, pesticides, other costs, while also enhancing production and strengthening urban food producer networks. 

    This project will begin with a robust needs assessment among D.C. agricultural service providers and farmers to determine the specific educational needs related to urban food production. Needs assessment results and data will be used to inform this project’s educational activities and to design the 2023-2025 State Plan for University of the District of Columbia.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    This project is one year in length and therefore outcomes and a Performance Target are not required. Project Objectives are provided here instead:

    A needs assessment will be completed that identifies the needs of agricultural service providers and their clients as related to agroecological crop production to enhance urban agriculture. Needs assessment results and data will be used to inform this project’s educational activities and to design the 2023-2025 State Plan for University of the District of Columbia.

    10 urban growers will move through the training sustainable crop production practices learned through a certificate program to provide, advise and bring more fresh fruit, vegetable, and supportive plants into urban agriculture cultivation amongst the Washington metropolis. The aim is to a create a team of Agriculture Service Providers (ASPs) to then serve metro growers needs in urban food production. 

    Possible crops of focus will include blueberries, thornless black berries, alpine strawberries, pole beans, kale, sweet and white potatoes.

    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.