As Maine island gardeners and farmers prepare for the 2010 growing season, the Island Institute has announced a second round of funding available through the Four-Season Island Agriculture Fund, made possible by the 1772 Foundation. The small-grant program is designed to support sustainable agriculture projects in Maine’s 15 unbridged year-round island communities.

The fund seeks to support farming and gardening projects that will contribute toward increasing the amount of locally produced food, and/or raising awareness about island-based agricultural efforts and heritage.

Funding priorities include capital-improvement projects and professional development opportunities.

Many islanders have expressed interest in expanding their farming and gardening to increase the amount of locally produced food available on-island, and to extend their growing season. Capital-improvement grants are intended to assist individuals and organizations in meeting this goal by funding projects such as cold-frame and/or greenhouse construction, or other farm and garden improvement projects.

There is growing interest from island schools and community organizations to incorporate farming and gardening into formal and informal K-12 and adult education initiatives. The professional development grants are intended to assist individuals and organizations that wish to attend or lead workshops to gather and spread information about the practice and value of local sustainable agriculture.

Applications are due by Monday, April 5. Individuals as well as organizations are encouraged to apply. For more information about the Four-Season Island Agriculture Fund, to view complete grant guidelines, and to learn how to apply, visit islandinstitute.org/silgrants.