$1.5 million investment from the USDA to support urban agriculture efforts in Portland Metro
Release Date: 08-07-2023

PORTLAND, Oregon — August 7, 2023 —  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $1.5M to support urban farms across the Portland Metro region. Portland-based nonprofit Ecotrust has been selected by the USDA to lead these efforts.

Ecotrust and partners will begin long-term efforts to ensure the agency delivers equitable service to all. This will include building the capacity of USDA staff to better meet the needs of underserved farmers and distributing $150,000 in microgrants to urban farms during the next three years for projects that help them improve soil health and adapt to climate change. These efforts will raise awareness of USDA programs and resources, which will support increased supply chain resiliency in local food systems by improving the sustainability and long-term viability of urban farms.

“We want to address what we know is the lack of historical engagement and benefit from USDA programs and services by farmers of color,” says Jamese Kwele, Ecotrust’s Vice President of Organizational and Food Systems Equity.

Accessing USDA programs and services is critical when it comes to farmers acquiring land and establishing successful agricultural businesses. Yet, farmers of color have disproportionately encountered barriers to accessing critical USDA funding and resources needed to adequately support their agricultural operations. Racial and other forms of discrimination in program access and delivery at USDA have been extensively documented. The disparate access to these programs and services has resulted in cumulative impacts that limit farm size, wealth accumulation, and quality of life for farmers of color.

“The obstacles experienced by farmers of color are decades in the making, and in some cases centuries in the making. It’s going to take time and effort to rebuild those relationships and change outcomes,” says Kwele.

Ecotrust will collaborate closely with Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon State University’s Center for Small Farms, Oregon Metro, and Multnomah County Health Department’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program through a long-term effort that works to ensure the agency delivers equitable service to all.


About Ecotrust

Ecotrust creates and accelerates triple-bottom-line innovations to benefit our region and inspire the world. Our work is rooted in the region from California to Alaska that holds productive lands and determined people. On the farm, at the coast, in the forest, and across our cities, we work in partnership towards an equitable, prosperous, climate-smart future. We recognize the legacy of colonialism and the deep inequities of this place, and we believe that radical, practical change is possible and necessary. Since 1991, we have created durable change and sparked ideas across the globe. Join us at ecotrust.org.