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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Baker-Polito Administration Awards Grants to Support Urban Agriculture

Baker-Polito Administration Awards Grants to Support Urban Agriculture
Nine Urban Farming Enterprises Receive $315,000 in Funding

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $315,000 in grants for nine urban agriculture projects across the state. The funding continues the Administration’s support for the emerging urban agriculture sector and commitment to ensuring city residents have access to fresh, healthy food.

“Urban farming entrepreneurs have been making an incredible impact in the Commonwealth’s cities in recent years and we are pleased to continue our support for them,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Today’s awardees are assisting families struggling with food insecurity and promoting healthy dietary habits while revitalizing communities and creating local jobs.”

“Urban farms positively impact the health and standard of living of residents and bring communities closer together,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These grants will help nine urban agriculture enterprises across the state grow their operations to provide more jobs and healthy produce to their communities.”

“Growing food in urban areas not only provides residents with fresher, more nutritious foods, but also decreases the carbon emissions caused by shipping food long distances,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Through the innovative Urban Agriculture Program, we are proud to provide funds to help these innovative enterprises expand and improve their operations.”

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) launched an Urban Agriculture Program to support the emerging urban agriculture sector in 2014. As of today, MDAR’s Urban Agriculture Program has released four rounds of funding which have provided support for  66 urban agriculture projects and facilitated six state-wide urban agriculture conferences, attracting hundreds of practitioners, advocates, and policy makers every year.

“MDAR’s Urban Agriculture Program has helped to strengthen urban neighborhoods by leveraging opportunities through the production, processing, marketing and sale of fresh food at the local level,” said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux.

Urban agriculture ranges from traditional in-ground growing and rooftop farms, to aquaponics, greenhouses and “freight farms.”  The local food movement is taking root in urban neighborhoods across Massachusetts, especially where vacant land or buildings are available and fresh food is hard to find.  The successful demonstration of past funded projects has ranged from innovative markets, expanding production space, refurbishing production facilities and investments in market opportunities within low to moderate income communities.

The following projects received grants:

Urban Farming Institute, Roxbury – $12,504
UFI will increase overall farm production by adding soil amendments, purchase small tools, paper-pot planter system and a pick-up truck for deliveries and to increase its efficiency within entire farm network.

Gardening the Community, Springfield – $13,986
Gardening the Community will use this funding for improvements to their Walnut St. Farm Site with the purchase of an automated venting system and a spray system for the farm’s greenhouse, as well as small farm tools.

The Food Project, Boston– $53,620
The Food Project will use their award for greenhouse infrastructure: vent installation, plumbing and installation and control system replacement and its installation. They will also purchase a mobile market trailer for their Lynn, MA farm site.

UMass Lowell, Lowell – $21,300
UMass Lowell will use the funding for the purchase of tools, soil amendments, perennials and growing benches for their commercial greenhouse.

Victory Program, Boston – $50,000
Victory Program will use their award to expand their capacity by adding vertical growing spaces, renovating greenhouse infrastructure, adding water catchment and reuse systems to the farm’s main site and fencing for all of the farm’s sites.

Codman Square CDC, Dorchester – $12,134 
Codman Square CDC will use their award to increase the farm’s capacity with the purchase and installation of a drip irrigation system and produce wash station. CSCDC will also purchase grow bags/soil, equipment for a mobile market farm stand, and industrial coolers for harvesting and markets.

Mill City Grows, Lowell – $48,206
Mill City Grows will use these funds to help centralize operations for their three farm sites with the purchase of a cooler, modular wash-pack station. They will also purchase compost, a compost spreader, and a mobile cooler.

Regional Environmental Council, Worcester – $43,250
Regional Environmental Council will purchase a new refrigerated cargo van for their Mobile Farmers’ Market.

We Grow Microgreens, Boston – $60,000
We Grow Microgreens will use these funds for the purchase and installation of a commercial greenhouse.

“I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for funding the Urban Agriculture Program here in the Commonwealth,” said State Senator Mike Rush (D-West Roxbury).  “This program strives to assist local urban projects dedicated to producing fresh foods in areas where vacant land is sparse.  Programs such as Urban Agriculture also allows for low to moderate income communities to gain access to healthy products while also creating local jobs.”

“We know that communities are stronger when they have access to fresh produce,”said State Representative Jeffrey Sánchez (D-Jamaica Plain). “These grants are an opportunity to stoke the entrepreneurial spirit of our youth while removing barriers to healthy food.”

“I'm very pleased that the MDAR Urban Agriculture Program is supporting the Regional Environmental Council in Worcester by expanding their Mobile Farmers' Market capacity, and thus our community's access to fresh, affordable food,” said State Representative Mary Keefe (D-Worcester).

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