The federal government as well as private organisations offer a number of financial options for argi-businesses, schools and other groups looking to improve the energy efficiency of their operations--including their greenhouses. These options include grants, matching funds and loans and, in some cases, free greenhouses.
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Federal Grant Legislation
Grants for farmers and small horticultural businesses became available under the 2002 Farm Bill. In 2008 this funding program became known as Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and its available funds increased. According to Greenhouse.Cornell.edu, the REAP program provides funding for "1) installing a renewable energy source for your operation (wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, etc.) or 2) making improvements to a facility that increases your energy efficiency (retrofitting existing buildings, installing a more efficient heating system, replacement of equipment to improve energy efficiency)." As greenhouses require energy to control moisture and temperature as well as lighting, this funding and these upgrades could be beneficial to owners.
Other Types of Grants
Not only businesses employ greenhouses. These structures are also popular in educational environments and used to instruct students in biology and botany as well as to introduce them to planting and growing as a profession. To that end, some community organisations or school districts will make funds available to schools to help start a green house and pay for its continued use.
Who can Apply for Grants
In the case of community-based grants, almost any community organisation can apply. A proposal explaining the project and how the funds will be used may be all that is needed. In terms of federal grants, the eligibility requirements are a bit more specific. First, the greenhouse must be in a rural area. It must be owned mainly by U.S. citizens, and 50 per cent of the owners' gross income must come from agricultural sources.
As previously mentioned, community-based grants are largely at the discretion of the organisation providing the funds. The process can be as easy or stringent as the organisation sees fit. The standards for applying for a federal grant, however, are arduous and may require professional grant-writing experience to be done successfully. Instructions for the application from previous years, as well as guidelines for new applications, are available online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/regs/regs/pdf/4280b.pdf.>
Different from granting money for existing structures and businesses is the work of the Greenhouse Grants Program, which partners with the American Horticultural Therapy Association. This foundation was established in 1987 as a memorial to Douglas Jay Schwartz. Far from the profitmaking requirements of the federal grants programs, but closer to the educational aims of greenhouses in schools, the foundation "provides greenhouses or matching grants to purchase greenhouses to horticultural therapy programs that serve people with physical, mental and emotional disabilities," according to NYTimes.com.
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