If you're a farmer or otherwise involved in an agricultural production business, you might qualify for a federal greenhouse grant. Though you will not get a free greenhouse from the government, funds can assist you in building one or upgrading a current facility. Private foundations also give money for 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.
Funding amounts may change from one year to the next. For the 2020 grant cycle, funding was provided as follows:
- Loan guarantees on loans up to 75% of total eligible project costs.
- Grants for up to 25% of total eligible project costs.
- Combined grant and loan guarantee funding up to 75% of total eligible project costs.
Grant Amounts and Additional Requirements
If applying for a grant only, money is available for up to 25% of the cost of the project, in amounts ranging from $2,500 to $500,000 for renewable energy projects. Between $1,500 and $250,000 is available for energy efficiency improvements.
Projects exceeding $200,000 in cost require a technical report to be submitted with the grant application. Energy efficiency projects require an energy audit or assessment.
High Tunnel Grants
The federal National Resources Conservation Service offers grants for seasonal high tunnels — or unheated greenhouses — through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The 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. High-value crops are generally non-staples such as vegetables, herbs and spices, fruits and ornamental flowers.
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, including the following:
- 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.
Community and Non-Profit Garden Grants
Growing Spaces, a Colorado-based company specializing in geodesic greenhouses, regularly lists grant opportunities on its website that are available to schools, communities and non-profit organizations for their gardening projects. They also have information on greenhouse fundraising projects.
Greenhouse grant opportunities listed for the 2020 grant cycle include the following:
- Captain Planet Foundation
- Colorado Garden Foundation (Colorado only)
- Chef Ann's Foundation
- Whole Food Market Grants
- Junior Master Gardener Grants
- Scott's Miracle Grow
- Western Growers Foundation (schools in Arizona and California)
- Kids Forum Open Gardening Grants
- KidsGardenening and Klorane Botanical Foundation
- Institute of Physics Grants for Educators
- American Community Gardening Association
- America in Bloom
- National Garden Bureau
- National Geographic
- The Bee Cause Project
- Annie's Garden funder grants
- Big Green Real Food Grow Here
- Seed Money
- Future Farmers of America
Grants for Special Populations
Greenhouse grants may be available for special populations such as veterans and individuals with disabilities. Though the grant announcements may not state greenhouses specifically, you may be able to tailor a proposal to include funding for a greenhouse. Grantors look for projects that enhance the quality of life and provide new opportunities for populations with special needs.
- US Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program: Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Guaranteed Loans and Grants
- US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service: High Tunnel System Initiative
- National Agriculture in the Classroom: Grants and Scholarships
- The Home Depot: Home Depot Foundation Grants
- Lowe's: Lowe's Foundation
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education: Sustainable Agriculture Grants
- Growing Spaces: Grants for Schools, Communities and Non-Profit Organizations 2020
Denise Dayton, M.S., M.Ed. is a freelance writer specializing in careers, education and technology. In addition to writing for corporate clients, she has published articles in Library Journal and The Searcher.