NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University and Farm Credit of Mid-America, an agricultural lending cooperative, are partnering to promote urban agriculture.
The two sides finalized discussions June 30 when officials of Farm Credit presented a check for $50,000 to TSU President Glenda Glover as seed money for the project.
“We are excited about this project,” Glover said. “We understand the importance of agriculture and with food security and population explosion, there is definitely the need for a strong cooperation like this between our agriculture college and a partner like Farm Credit.”
The TSU College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, under the leadership of Dean Chandra Reddy, who has been leading the negotiation with Farm Credit, will serve as the coordinating arm of the project.
In a meeting in Glover’s office, Mark Wilson, Farm Credit senior vice president for Financial Services, said TSU’s role would be critical as the United States faces a land shortage with a goal to double its food production in the next 30 years.
“That is quite a task,” Wilson said. “It is going to take people like us and the research that’s going on at Tennessee State University to make that possible.”
As a type of comprehensive education and community partnership, urban agriculture connects individuals and communities with resources to navigate the food system for their needs. It entails growing fruits, vegetables and, in some instances, raising animals in metro areas with limited spaces.
Under the partnership, the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resources will promote new ways of growing fruits in tight and limited spaces, using hydroponic (soilless), vertical gardening, and organic agriculture techniques.
According to Reddy, only 1 percent of the general population is engaged in traditional agricultural production. He said the goal is to promote these new ideas where individuals can grow food like fruits and vegetables in their homes without using much land.
“Our faculty are working but we are not yet able to take these ideas where every body is aware of them,” Reddy said. “With this funding from Farm Credit, we will sponsor events that draw community and statewide attention, like an ‘Urban Agriculture Day’ on the TSU campus. We will invite individuals to compete for these ideas. We may have some cash awards from this money to give them.”
Reddy said the next phase of the plan is to put together a committee that will develop criteria for the project.
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.