If you're a farmer or otherwise involved in an agricultural production business, you might qualify for a federal greenhouse grant. These grants allow you to upgrade your greenhouse's energy efficiency or construct certain types of greenhouses.
Rural Energy for America Program
The federal Rural Energy for America program provides grants to agricultural businesses, as well as small businesses in rural areas, for both energy efficiency improvement and renewable energy projects. Greenhouses fall under these categories. Any business that derives at least half its gross income from agriculture is eligible. An agricultural business doesn't have to be located in an area deemed rural by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Agricultural or business enterprises owing delinquent federal taxes or with judgments against them are ineligible.
Grant are available for up to 25 percent of the cost of the project, with amounts ranging from $2,500 to $500,000 for renewable energy projects and $1,500 to $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements. You can receive loans through REAP for much of the other 75 percent of costs. For more information, contact the rural development energy coordinator in your state.
U.S. citizens or permanent residents must own a minimum of 50 percent of any business to qualify for a REAP grant. For non-agricultural businesses, a rural area is considered any that has a population of less than 50,000 and isn't located right next to an area that is considered urban.
High Tunnel Grants
The federal National Resources Conservation Service offers grants for seasonal high tunnels -- or unheated greenhouses -- through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program. These grants help farmers extend their crop production seasons through the use of high tunnels. Only agricultural businesses growing high value crops as defined by the NCRS may receive funding. The NRCS provides grant money for distribution by states, so applicants should contact their state NRCS office for more information. Application deadlines may vary by state.
Qualifying projects include those which improve:
- soil quality
- plant quality
- air quality
- energy use rates
- pesticide use rates.
Schools are increasingly including agricultural programs in curriculums. Students learn more than just the basics of good nutrition -- they also learn how to grow healthy foods. A greenhouse serves as a year-round growing medium, whether the school is located in an urban, suburban or rural area. Grants are available from various sources. These include:
- The Home Depot Foundation
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education program
- Lowe's Toolbox for Education
- The USDA's National Agriculture in the Classroom program.
Check with your state Department of Agriculture for additional grant opportunities.