When the United States was in its infancy, homesteading played an important role in settling residents across the country. The government still encourages homesteading today. In Tennessee, modern-day homesteaders can apply for a number of grants to use for various farming, gardening and other agricultural projects. These come from a variety of sources with amounts ranging from $250 to $100,000 and more.
Who Offers Grants?
Grants for rural homesteading in Tennessee come from a variety of sources, including both public and private organizations. Rural homesteaders can apply for grants from the federal government, specifically through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Funding also comes from other government organizations such as the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education and Rural Development groups – both divisions of the USDA. Other sources of homesteading grants include state and local governments, like the Tennessee Farm Bureau and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. For example, the Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Farm Tour Grant goes to farmers to provide farm tours to the community and the Community Garden Grant is for citizens to plant community gardens.
The grant amount varies from provider to provider; grants can also vary from year to year, depending on the funding each provider receives annually. Grant amounts range from $250 for mini-grants to $100,000 and more for larger grants. Some providers partner with other organizations to offer matching funds for the grant programs. The Tennessee Farm Bureau Community Garden Grant is eligible for matching funds from other agriculture-related groups such as local farmers’ cooperatives, agricultural businesses and agricultural schools.
How the Grant Is Used
Each grant provider sets its own criteria on the types of projects the grant money covers. Sometimes, the grant provides great flexibility, such as the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program. Homesteaders and farmers can use the money from the enhancement program for a variety of projects, including building new barns and structures, purchasing equipment and starting research and development projects. Some grants have specific restrictions on how the money is used, so check the rules carefully.
How to Obtain One
Typically, applying for a grant starts with an online or paper application to the organization. Farms and homesteads may have to meet certain eligibility criteria, such as being a registered property with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture or having a certain number of acres or head of cattle. Other requirements include participating in educational courses and submitting reports after a project is completed to show that the homesteader used the money according to the provider’s guidelines.
Lindsey Thompson began her writing career in 2001. Her work has been published in the Cincinnati Art Museum's "Member Magazine" and "The Ohio Journalist." You'll also find her work on websites like Airbnb, Chron.com, and USAToday.com. Thompson holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.