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The Urban American Indian Collective- FIND YOUR TRIBE!


Cultivating Community: How to Acquire Free Land and Build a Farm Using State "Adopt-a-Lot" Programs and EBT

In an era where sustainable living and local food production are increasingly important, innovative approaches to urban agriculture are blossoming across the United States. Nothing compared to that of the Homestead Act A Long History of Racial Preferences - For Whites, one of the most promising yet underutilized opportunities for aspiring farmers and community builders is the "Adopt-a-Lot" program, a state-sponsored initiative that allows individuals to acquire vacant urban land for free. Coupled with the strategic use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, commonly known as EBT, you can establish a thriving urban farm at little to no cost. Here’s how you can leverage these programs to create a sustainable oasis in your city.

Understanding the "Adopt-a-Lot" Program

The "Adopt-a-Lot" program is designed to transform vacant, often neglected urban plots into vibrant green spaces. These initiatives aim to reduce urban blight, enhance community engagement, and promote environmental sustainability. By adopting a lot, you gain temporary stewardship over a piece of land, which you can use for gardening, farming, or creating community spaces.

These initiatives aim to reduce urban blight, enhance community engagement, and promote environmental sustainability. By adopting a lot, you gain temporary stewardship over a piece of land, which you can use for gardening, farming, or creating community spaces.

For example, Baltimore’s Adopt-a-Lot program offers residents access to vacant city-owned lots for urban gardening. Similarly, cities like Detroit and Philadelphia have embraced these initiatives, turning blighted areas into green, productive spaces.

Steps to Acquire Free Land:

Research Local Programs: Start by identifying if your city or state offers an "Adopt-a-Lot" program. Municipal websites and local government offices are valuable resources for information about available lots and application procedures.

Application Process: Submit an application detailing your plans for the lot. This often includes a proposal outlining how you intend to use the space, your experience in gardening or farming, and how the project will benefit the community.

Approval and Training: Once approved, many programs offer training sessions on urban farming, sustainability practices, and community engagement. These sessions are invaluable for first-time urban farmers.

Land Use Agreement: After approval, you sign a land use agreement. This agreement typically grants you stewardship over the land for a specified period, often with the option to renew.

Building a Farm with EBT

Once you have secured your lot, the next step is to build your farm. Here’s where the strategic use of SNAP benefits can play a crucial role.

Using EBT for Farming Supplies:

Seeds and Plants: The USDA allows SNAP benefits to be used for purchasing seeds and plants that produce food for the household. This provision is a game-changer for urban farmers, as it covers a significant portion of the initial costs.

Participating Vendors: Identify farmers’ markets, garden centers, and retailers that accept EBT. Many urban areas have programs encouraging farmers' markets to accept EBT, making it easier to access the necessary supplies.

Maximizing Benefits: Plan your purchases strategically to maximize the variety and yield of your crops. Focus on high-yield, low-maintenance plants that can thrive in urban environments, such as tomatoes, leafy greens, and herbs.

Community Engagement: Engage your community to help with labor and resources. Community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs or local gardening clubs can provide additional support and funding.

Benefits of Urban Farming

Engage with the Community: Build relationships with other urban farmers and community members. Participate in local gardening clubs or community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs to exchange knowledge and resources.

Sustain and Expand: As your farm grows, consider diversifying your crops and exploring additional funding opportunities through grants or community sponsorships. Keep meticulous records of your expenses and harvests to help in future planning and scaling.

1. Food Security: By growing your own food, you reduce dependency on external food sources and increase access to fresh, nutritious produce.

2. Environmental Impact: Urban farming helps combat urban food deserts which impact urban youth and elderly greatly.

Success Stories

The success of "Adopt-a-Lot" programs is evident across various cities. In Detroit, the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network has transformed multiple vacant lots into productive urban farms, creating jobs and providing fresh produce to local communities. Similarly, in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s LandCare program has revitalized over 12,000 lots, reducing crime and boosting community morale.


The intersection of "Adopt-a-Lot" programs and EBT benefits offers a unique and accessible pathway for aspiring urban farmers. By strategically leveraging these resources, individuals can acquire land, cultivate crops, and build thriving farms with minimal financial burden. This movement not only fosters self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship but also contributes to the revitalization of urban communities, creating greener, healthier environments for all. The dream of owning a farm is closer than ever – it’s time to adopt a lot and cultivate your future.

Adopt-a-Lot" Program Resources

Baltimore Adopt-a-Lot Program

Details on how Baltimore residents can access and apply for vacant lots for urban gardening.

Philadelphia LandCare Program

Information on how to get involved in transforming vacant lots in Philadelphia.

Detroit Land Bank Authority

Provides information on how Detroit residents can purchase or adopt vacant lots for community projects.

NYC Parks GreenThumb

Website: GreenThumb

Offers support and resources for community gardens in New York City, including access to land.

EBT and SNAP Benefits Resources

USDA SNAP Benefits for Gardeners

Website: USDA - SNAP Gardens

Information on how SNAP benefits can be used to purchase seeds and plants that produce food.

Farmers Market Coalition

Details on how farmers markets accept EBT and offer programs like market match to double benefits.

Double Up Food Bucks

A program that matches SNAP purchases at participating farmers markets and grocery stores.

Urban Farming and Community Gardening Resources

American Community Gardening Association (ACGA)

Website: ACGA

Provides resources and support for starting and maintaining community gardens.

Urban Farm and Garden Alliance (UFGA)

Website: UFGA

A network that supports urban farmers and gardeners with resources and community connections.

City Farmer News

A comprehensive resource on urban agriculture, including tips, success stories, and links to local programs.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)

Website: NSAC

Advocacy and resources for sustainable agriculture practices, including urban farming initiatives.

These resources provide a robust starting point for anyone interested in transforming vacant urban spaces into productive farms and utilizing EBT benefits to support their agricultural endeavors.

Florida has several programs similar to "Adopt-a-Lot" that facilitate the use of vacant land for community gardening and urban agriculture. Here are a few notable programs and resources available in various Florida cities:

  1. Miami-Dade Adopt-a-Tree and Community Garden Programs

  1. Urban Oasis Project

  • Website: Urban Oasis Project

  • Supports the development of community gardens and urban farms in Miami, providing resources and assistance to local gardeners.

  1. Tampa Green Artery

  • Website: Tampa Green Artery

  • Focuses on creating green spaces and community gardens, potentially offering opportunities for adopting or using vacant lots for gardening.


  1. Orlando's Community Garden Program

  • Website: Orlando Community Garden Program

  • Provides information and support for starting and maintaining community gardens, including access to city-owned land .Jacksonville By leveraging these resources, residents in Florida can find opportunities to adopt vacant lots and create vibrant community gardens or urban farms, contributing to local food security and community well-being.

  1. Greenscape of Jacksonville

  • Website: Greenscape of Jacksonville

  • Promotes urban forestry and community gardening projects, often collaborating with the city to repurpose vacant lots.

In Georgia, several programs support urban farming and community gardening, similar to "Adopt-a-Lot" initiatives. These programs can help residents gain access to land and resources for starting and maintaining urban farms or community gardens. Here are some notable programs and resources in Georgia:


  1. Atlanta's Urban Agriculture Program

  • Website: Atlanta Urban Agriculture

  • Description: The City of Atlanta’s Urban Agriculture Program, known as AgLanta, supports urban agriculture through policies, programs, and partnerships. It includes initiatives to repurpose vacant lots for urban farming and community gardens.

  1. Groundwork Atlanta

  • Website: Groundwork Atlanta

  • Description: Groundwork Atlanta works on urban agriculture projects that transform vacant lots into community gardens and green spaces, promoting environmental sustainability and community engagement.

Statewide Programs

  1. Georgia Organics

  • Website: Georgia Organics

  • Description: Georgia Organics supports organic farming and local food systems across the state. They offer resources, grants, and support for community gardens and urban farms.

  1. UGA Cooperative Extension

  • Website: UGA Extension - Community Gardening

  • Description: The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension provides educational resources and support for community gardening. They help with garden planning, soil testing, and sustainable gardening practices.

  1. Atlanta Community Food Bank Community Gardens

  • Website: Atlanta Community Food Bank - Community Gardens

  • Description: The Atlanta Community Food Bank’s Community Gardens Program supports the creation and maintenance of community gardens. They offer resources, workshops, and support to help communities grow their own food.

Specific Initiatives

  1. Park Pride’s Community Garden Program

  • Website: Park Pride

  • Description: Park Pride helps communities in Atlanta develop and maintain community gardens in public parks. They provide technical assistance, resources, and support for garden projects.

  1. Southwest Atlanta Growers Cooperative

  • Website: SWAG Cooperative

  • Description: This cooperative supports urban farmers in Southwest Atlanta by providing access to land, resources, and a network of support. They focus on promoting sustainable urban agriculture and local food systems.

  1. Food Well Alliance

  • Website: Food Well Alliance

  • Description: Food Well Alliance supports urban agriculture projects in metro Atlanta. They offer grants, resources, and technical assistance to help communities create and sustain urban farms and gardens.

How to Get Started

  1. Research Local Programs: Identify the programs and resources available in your specific city or region within Georgia.

  2. Engage with Non-Profit Organizations: Reach out to organizations like Georgia Organics or the Atlanta Community Food Bank for support and guidance.

  3. Utilize University Resources: Leverage the expertise and resources of institutions like the UGA Cooperative Extension for educational materials and technical assistance.

  4. Community Involvement: Connect with local community groups and cooperatives to build a network of support and share resources.

By utilizing these programs and resources, residents of Georgia can access land and support to start urban farms and community gardens, contributing to local food security and community revitalization.

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