March 6, 2017 \u2013 The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $40,300 in grants to three urban agriculture projects in Lowell and Lawrence. The funding continues the Administration\u2019s support for an emerging urban agriculture sector and a commitment to ensure city residents have access to fresh food.\n\n\u201cThe Baker-Polito Administration is dedicated to supporting the growing urban agriculture movement for allowing more people to get involved in farming and increasing access to healthy food for low-income residents,\u201d said Governor Charlie Baker. \u201cInnovative urban agriculture projects create healthier local food systems and help spur local economic development in communities across the Commonwealth.\u201d\n\n\u201cUrban agriculture projects can bring a neighborhood closer together, increase access to fresh produce, provide jobs, and educate residents on nutrition and local agriculture,\u201d said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. \u201cThese three projects are committed to bringing local, nutritious produce to communities in the Merrimack Valley, and through these grants they will be able to improve and increase their operations.\u201d\n\nThe Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) launched an Urban Agriculture Program to support the emerging urban agriculture sector in early 2014. Including this round, the program has released four rounds of funding which have provided support for 51 urban agriculture projects and facilitated four state-wide urban agriculture conferences, attracting hundreds of practitioners, advocates, and policy makers.\n\n\u201cGrowing food in heavily-populated areas not only provides city residents with fresher, more nutritious foods, but also decreases the carbon emissions caused by shipping food long distances,\u201d said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. \u201cThrough the Urban Agriculture Program, we are proud to support these projects on the forefront of an exciting agricultural movement.\u201d\n\n\u201cThese Urban Agriculture grants continue the Commonwealth\u2019s commitment to support all elements of Massachusetts Agriculture,\u201d said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. \u201cThe three awards will allow the recipients to expand their food production and distribution capacities, and simultaneously provide additional tangible benefits to urban residents.\u201d\n\nUrban agriculture ranges from traditional in-ground growing and rooftop farms, to aquaponics, greenhouses and \u201cfreight farms.\u201d The local food movement is taking root in urban neighborhoods, especially where vacant land or buildings are available and fresh food is hard to find. Past funded projects have been in communities such as Holyoke, Springfield, Lowell, Lawrence, Salem, Boston and Somerville.\n\nThe following projects received grants:\n\nGroundwork Lawrence (GWL), Lawrence - $8,775\nGroundwork Lawrence\u2019s award will be used to purchase a BCS 749 walk behind tractor, as well as attachments and additional farming tools, all needed for the overall efficiency and productivity of Groundwork Lawrence\u2019s operations. Multiple improvements have been made due to grants from MDAR\u2019s Urban Agriculture Program, increasing GWL\u2019s capacity to grow, store and sell produce to low to moderate income communities in Lawrence.\n\nNew Entry Sustainable Farm Project, Lowell - $8,825\nNew Entry Sustainable Farming will purchase and install a compressor unit for their 25-foot refrigerated trailer. The compressor is an essential component to the operation as it will provide accessible cold storage space for farmers to deliver to directly, a critical piece to ensure crop and product quality for food distribution to communities on the North Shore.\n\nUMass Lowell, Lowell - $22,700\nIn partnership with Mill City Grows, UMass Lowell will utilize their award to purchase an 8mm polycarbonate shell for UMASS Lowell\u2019s entire greenhouse structure, including doors, a vent system and a rainwater catchment system. All components will greatly increase the sustainability of the greenhouse, updating their current project creating a sustainable; off-grid structure. The establishment of the greenhouse will provide opportunities for work study programs as well as expanding the food production capacity of Mill City Grows with this year-round facility.\n\n\u201cThe need for urban farming practices and capacity will only continue to grow, and so it\u2019s great to see investment in urban farming in a gateway city like Lawrence,\u201d said State Senator Barbara L\u2019Italien (D-Andover). \u201cThanks to this grant and Groundwork Lawrence\u2019s excellent work in the community, access to healthy food grown right in the community will increase for Lawrence residents \u2013 of all income levels.\u201d\n\n\u201cGroundwork Lawrence has, for nearly two decades, empowered residents of the City of Lawrence to improve their quality of life,\u201d said State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen). \u201cAmong its amazing initiatives have been fresh food access programs. This important grant will enormously help GWL in its efforts to continue this incredible work in the community.\u201d\n\n\u201cI\u2019m always happy to see state funds being directed toward the greater Lawrence community,\u201d said State Representative Frank Moran (D-Lawrence). \u201cI am especially excited by this grant through MDAR\u2019s Urban Agriculture program, since it will help support the exceptional work Groundwork Lawrence does to increase access to healthy food for residents in the greater Lawrence area. Thank you Governor Baker for your support in making the greater Lawrence community healthier.\u201d\n\n\u201cGroundwork Lawrence has been an invaluable asset to our community,\u201d said State Representative Juana Matias (D-Lawrence). \u201cGWL\u2019s Urban Agriculture Projects in the district have increased access to healthy foods for our residents. I am grateful that GWL is a recipient of this grant, and that GWL\u2019s work in the city of Lawrence will continue to expand.\u201d\n\nMDAR\u2019s goals have been to increase and sustain the capacity of urban agriculture to provide tangible, measurable benefits to residents in urban centers, including increased access to healthy fresh food, improved public health, entrepreneurial opportunities, job training and youth employment, and community revitalization.