|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
|Economic Adjustment Assistance||1||$315,525|
In 2014, Feeding America stated that 34,570 children in the metropolitan Omaha area are considered “food insecure.” These children tend to come from socially and economically disadvantaged communities where they “rarely” eat fruits and vegetables, according to Live Well Omaha. Concerns over the health of children in the larger Omaha area as well as the constraints on adequate food production given increasing populations point to the necessity of increased innovation and training in the food industry. To combat the rates of food insecurity and create educational opportunities for students in next generation food production, Greg Fripp founded Whispering Roots.
In September 2016, EDA invested $315,525 in Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to Whispering Roots to assist the Omaha-based non-profit in purchasing equipment for its cutting-edge Controlled Environment Agriculture facility. The equipment will support the aquaculture center, crop production center, and food processing areas. Specifically, it will be used to support hands-on learning experiences for students and members of the community through training classes and internships in the commercial level aquaculture facility. Whispering Roots is working with the University of Nebraska Omaha Bioinformatics Department to provide opportunities for disadvantaged residents to engage in innovative technology training and research. Whispering Roots is also partnering with the Metro Community College (MCC) as a key partner in the development of the aquaponics program at MCC.
It is anticipated that the aquaponics and greenhouse facility located at the community accelerator will create 12 new jobs. In addition, the new facility will provide a platform for future entrepreneurs to commercialize technologies to create new businesses.