- Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards $163,000 to Urban Agriculture Projects
Boston — March 14, 2016 – The Baker-Polito Administration has announced grants totaling approximately $163,000 for five urban agriculture projects that will support the growth and viability of this growing sector. Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux announced the grants at the 4th Annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference held at Northeastern University.
“These projects are committed to bringing local, nutritious produce to urban communities across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The state’s continued investment in projects such as these strengthens our local food system and makes it accessible through innovative farming and food production practices.”
“City farms generate a variety of economic, social and environmental benefits, including promoting good health and preventing chronic disease,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Many municipal officials, community leaders, and organizations like those receiving DAR awards have been working hard to not only improve neighborhood environments, but increase access to fresh produce so all of their constituents may have fresh food readily available.”
The grants were provided through DAR’s Urban Agriculture Grant Program. Including this round of grants, the program has released four rounds of funding since 2014 which have provided support for 36 urban agriculture projects and facilitated three state-wide urban agriculture conferences, attracting hundreds of practitioners, advocates, and policy makers.
“Today’s awardees will continue to impact and strengthen local neighborhoods and facilitate new opportunities through the production, processing, marketing and sale of local food,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Through these grants, this administration demonstrates its commitment to supporting the production of sustainably-grown, fresh food within our cities and increasing access to healthy food for all Massachusetts residents.”
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 neighborhoods, especially where vacant land or buildings are available and there is challenge to source fresh food.
“These grants will assist urban agricultural enterprises whose projects range from expanding production space, creation of innovative aquaponics and hydroponics facilities and investment in market opportunities within under-served communities,” said DAR Commissioner John Lebeaux.
The following projects have received funding:
Nubian Society (NUBIA), Boston $6,476.95
With this funding, NUBIA will increase their production yield from a 1.2-acre site with the purchase and installation of a rainwater catchment system, a sustainable solution to water access. The funds will also be used for the purchase of a drip irrigation system, thus allowing them to instead utilize staff for youth outreach and education programming. The catchment system will also offer the benefit of diverting excess runoff and reduce both soil erosion and demand of city water.
The Trust for Public Land, Boston $22,500.00
With this funding, the Trust for Public Land will acquire nutrient dense soil and other materials, as well as demonstrate soil management and soil quality practices, critical to ensuring a healthy production environment on a ground level urban farm. This key capital investment will utilize the EPA’s Best Practice “Raised Bed Method” to ensure soil safety and will enable urban farmers to cultivate healthy crops and perpetuate the urban agriculture economy.
Commonwealth Kitchen, Dorchester $61,521.45
With this funding, Commonwealth Kitchen will utilize this award to expand their manufacturing services with the purchase of select manufacturing equipment. This needed infrastructure will help scale up their operations and provide increased value-added processing for many local/urban farms, thus directly increasing the amount of locally-grown produce that is sold and consumed in the region. Commonwealth Kitchen has raised matching funds for this project.
Nuestra Raices, Holyoke $11,262.60
With this funding, Nuestra Raices will utilize their funding to purchase and install new refrigeration units at their farm. The site preparation, electoral work and purchase of a lock will provide a critical component for food safety and freshness for several of Nuestra Raices’ farmers, representing 9 businesses. The project is part of collaboration with the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce to co-brand and co-market all Holyoke Farmers’ Markets.
Mass Audubon and City-Soil & Greenhouse, Mattapan $62,100.00
With this funding, Mass Audubon and City Soil & Greenhouse LLC will implement the second phase of site expansion at the Mattapan Ecovation Center. The grant will invest in nearly 1.5 acres of urban agriculture infrastructure on a formerly blighted site. Funds will be utilized for soil, irrigation, season extension, as well as innovative technology for crop production and efficient harvesting. This is an important project for surrounding communities, as project leaders continue reach out to surrounding neighborhoods, partner with local organizations and facilitate youth training and educational access.
“When we invest in urban agriculture, we provide many Massachusetts citizens a sustainable, innovative pathway to nourishment – regardless of location or socioeconomic status,” said State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D – Boston). “These projects play a crucial role in developing the state’s green economy, and yield immense benefits for both residents of Boston and the Commonwealth at large.”
“I am excited to see support for urban agriculture in the City of Boston,” said State Representative Evandro Carvalho (D - Dorchester). “Innovative and creative Urban Agriculture programs, like Commonwealth Kitchen, are opening up new sectors of the job market that build on the skill sets of many entrepreneurs already in the neighborhoods.”
“Congratulations to Nuestra Raices for receiving this well-deserved funding. For over twenty years, Nuestra Raices has been providing area residents with fresh, local food options, and this grant will support their continued success,” said State Senator Don Humason (R - Westfield). “Thank you to the Baker Administration for recognizing the great work that this organization is doing for the residents of greater Holyoke.”
“We are excited to receive this funding to allow Nuestra Raices to grow and continue having a positive impact on the Holyoke community,” said State Representative Aaron Vega (D - Holyoke).
“CommonWealth Kitchen will use the grant funding to purchase specialized processing equipment so we can help urban farms preserve the harvest. We can add value by turning their local produce into sauces, stocks, pickles, relishes, jams, and the like, keeping more locally-grown food out of the waste stream and into the regional food supply,” said Jen Faigel, CommonWealth Kitchen's Executive Director. “We're absolutely thrilled by Governor Baker's commitment to strengthening the regional food economy and supporting urban farms.”
The 4th Annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference (UFC) attracted 400 participants representing non-profits, municipalities, community leaders, farmers, investors, and others. DAR partners with the Urban Farming Institute and City Growers to host the conference, which is designed to advance the opportunities and address the barriers involved in cultivating a resilient and thriving Urban Farming sector.