The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources recognizes that urban food production plays an important role in addressing health, social, economic and environmental issues and is working with organizations, municipalities, and sister agencies to support initiatives for commercial urban food production.

MDAR launched the Urban Agriculture Program in the fall of 2013, one of the nation’s first state-wide programs to support and promote commercial urban farming enterprises.  Funding through the program targets infrastructure needs, innovative food production, zoning ordinances, technical assistance, land acquisition, and youth leadership development. A listing of past grantees can be found here pdf format of Grantees 2014 and 2015
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Urban Ag photo at South St.

 This program is also designed to build community partnerships; the Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference is a key component to strengthening this growing network. Convened by MDAR, in partnership with the Urban Farming Institute and City Growers, this annual, full day event brings seasoned practitioners and multi-sector experts together with beginning urban farmers and entrepreneurs. The conference addresses our urban food systems, community revitalization, land and policy issues and best practices for urban farm enterprise’s viability. 

As MDAR’s Urban Agriculture Program grows, urban food production will provide tangible, measurable benefits to residents in urban centers, increasing access to healthy fresh food, improved public health, entrepreneurial opportunities, job training & youth employment, and community revitalization.

Urban Ag and Community Planning Symposium, State House, Boston - March 20, 2015

MDAR hosted its first urban agriculture symposium for municipal planners. This half-day event brought together municipal leaders and planners, with policy makers, public health and environmental professionals,  farm entrepreneurs,  and other stakeholders who have collaborated on successful urban agriculture projects and local initiatives for the purpose of sharing information, resources and best practices to support this work. Opening remarks were provided by EEA Secretary Matthew Beaton, MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux, and  Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone.

Links below are of several presentations made during the course of the symposium. Click here for videos of presentations.

Mapping Urban Agriculture: Factors Affecting Access to Healthy Food

When addressing public health and environmental issues, a growing number of healthcare and public policy officials acknowledge the positive impacts of urban agriculture.  As urban food production expands in Massachusetts, MDAR has begun the process of identifying specific areas that could benefit from city-based farming enterprises, utilizing data on existing urban farming enterprises, farmers’ markets, low-income neighborhoods, low access to fresh food, and  environmental justice zones.

Click on each city for a specific map: Boston pdf format of Food Access Map - Boston
file size 4MB, Worcester, pdf format of Food Access Map - Worcester
file size 1MB Springfield  pdf format of Food Access Map - Springfield-Holyoke
file size 2MBand Lawrence pdf format of Food Access Map - Lawrence
file size 1MB.

For more information on mapping, contact Dake.Henderson@state.ma.us  (We will try to accommodate all reasonable requests for maps customized to your area and format needs).

The Annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference (UFC)

Each year, around March, this conference is produced by  City Growers and the Urban Farming Institute, in partnership with MDAR. With the theme of “Cultivating Lands, Nourishing Communities, Building Businesses”, this annual conference is designed to advance opportunities and address the barriers involved in cultivating a thriving urban farming sector. At UFC, attendees have a great opportunity to share information and resources, strengthen the MA urban farming network and map out a vision for urban farming in Massachusetts. If you have questions or would like to contribute to next year's conference, contact Rose Arruda, Rose.Arruda@state.ma.us, 617-626-1849.