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Vermont USDA-NRCS Awards $153,352 in Conservation Innovation Grants

VERMONT, September 15, 2011

State Conservationist, Vicky M. Drew, of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the approval of four Vermont State Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG). Federal money from these grants will fund projects that focus on grass pellet heating systems, new nutrient management strategies, and innovative greenhouse designs.

CIG is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. USDA-NRCS administers the CIG program which requires a 50-50 match between the agency and the applicant. CIG is offered as both a nationwide and a state program.

The University of Vermont (UVM) was presented with grants to fund two projects starting in 2011. The larger of the two projects will develop, evaluate, and verify the effectiveness of innovative nutrient management implementation strategies on Vermont farms that help decrease agricultural nonpoint source nutrient pollution. This project is expected to take place over the next two years. UVM’s other CIG project will improve the design of key components of an existing bubble greenhouse insulation system, and implement these improvements in their demonstration greenhouse located in Colchester.

The Meach Cove Farm Trust in Shelburne will use their grant funds to evaluate two different types of grass pellet heating equipment and indentify the most suitable species of grass fuel. The findings of this project will be documented and made public to assist Vermont farmers and consumers in the selection of heating equipment and grass species that produce optimal fuel.

The fourth CIG was awarded to Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Warren. This project will apply innovative systems that are not commonly used in northern New England in the construction of a passive solar greenhouse. The site will demonstrate reduced energy demands and improved vegetable production, and offer a demonstration site for regular class offerings and area farmers.

More information about the Conservation Innovation Grant program through USDA-NRCS can be found online here: http://www.vt.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/CIG/index.html, or by contacting the Vermont CIG Program Manager, Bob Kort, at 802-951-6796 ext. 233, or Bob.Kort@vt.usda.gov.
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