2024 Annual Farmers & Friends Meeting
More than 10 years after the first grants were awarded, the KC Grow Water Access Program continues to be a critical asset to urban farmers and community gardeners throughout Kansas City, Missouri. This program, sponsored by the City of Kansas City, Missouri’s water department, is administered by Kansas City Community Gardens with technical support from Cultivate Kansas City.
The program has funded more than 80 projects, which often include installing a water hydrant for a new urban farm or garden, building a rainwater collection system, or funding supplies for more efficient water use such as sprinklers or drip irrigation systems. For many urban farms and community gardens, these funds have made it possible to grow on previously vacant lots. For others, the grants have allowed for innovation to improve their efficiency or sustainability.
Flora Mahaffy of Bread and Roses Farm grows in the Washington Wheatley neighborhood of Kansas City, MO. Bread and Roses began as a community garden in 2010 and has evolved into a CSA and market garden over the last six years. The farm currently runs water from Flora’s house, which means running irrigation lines across an alley. This system has been a source of stress over the years, often springing leaks and occasionally exploding, as well as creating difficulty separating household and business use.
Last fall, Flora applied for the KC Grow Water Access Program to install a water hydrant on the main lot of Bread and Roses Farm. She was awarded a grant and is working with KC Community Gardens and a plumber to complete the installation this spring. “This was the first grant I have ever applied for,” Flora shared, “and to be able to talk through the project with staff from Cultivate KC, then have follow up visits from KCCG, made the process really easy for me.” She is looking forward to her first growing season with a “no-fuss irrigation system” and hopes the more efficient system will mean fewer leaks and lower water bills for her urban farm business.
Longfellow Farm, a community farm in the Longfellow neighborhood of Kansas City, MO, first received a KC Grow grant in 2015 to help transform three lots owned by the neighborhood association into a place for neighbors to work together to grow food. The group later received another grant to install irrigation sprinklers for the trees in their Giving Grove orchard. “We are an entirely volunteer-run and community-rooted farm, so programs like KC Grow are necessary to invest in the infrastructure that makes it possible to grow food with our neighbors,” said Clare Shaw, one of the founding organizers of the farm.
These are just a few stories of the impact the KC Grow Water Access Program has made for urban agriculture in Kansas City. The KC Grow Water Access Program typically renews funding each spring, and the call for applications opens in the late summer. Learn more about the program and consider applying next summer HERE.