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Students at High Shoals Elementary plant crops in their farm-to-school program. Teaching gardens now dot the landscapes of schools across Georgia.

ATLANTA — A public-private partnership created to lead efforts to make Georgia the technology capital of the East Coast is getting involved in the farming business.

The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation announced the award of a $250,000 grant Monday to a program run by The Conservation Fund that supports next-generation farmers.

The Working Farms Fund program is the first in the nation to offer end-to-end support for new farmers, including a path to farm ownership and access to established farm markets.

“This support will allow The Conservation Fund to scale this critical program to help Georgia build a resilient local food system by ensuring that diverse, entrepreneurial farmers have access to farmland and new markets to grow their farm businesses,” said Stacy Funderburke, The Conservation Fund’s Georgia and Alabama associate state director.

The program will initially work in the 29-county metro-Atlanta region, permanently protecting at-risk farmland through conservation easements and lease-to-own options. It also aims to strengthen connections between farmers, markets and consumers while increasing the supply of locally grown nutritious food.

“The Georgia Working Farms Fund represents an innovative and transformative approach to how we think about the agricultural industry and food security,” said Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a member of the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation’s board.

The grant will provide enough funding to continue the Farms Fund’s operations in Georgia for two years.

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