The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $343,079 in grants for eight urban agriculture projects across the state. 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. The announcement was made by Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux during an event at UMass Lowell. \n\n\u201cMassachusetts\u2019 urban agriculture programs remain a critical way to address food access and food insecurity in the Commonwealth\u2019s urban areas, while revitalizing communities and creating local jobs,\u201d said Governor Charlie Baker. \u201cOur administration is proud to provide funds to help these innovative enterprises expand and improve their operations.\u201d\n\n\u201cUrban food production positively impacts the health and standard of living of residents, and is an avenue for local job creation and improving community camaraderie,\u201d said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. \u201cMany of today\u2019s grant recipients also have programs dedicated to youth development and leadership, inspiring the next generation of Massachusetts farmers.\u201d \n\nThe Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) launched an Urban Agriculture Program to support the emerging urban agriculture sector in early 2014. As of today, MDAR\u2019s Urban Agriculture Program has released four rounds of funding which have provided support for 57 urban agriculture projects and facilitated five statewide urban agriculture conferences, attracting hundreds of practitioners, advocates, and policy makers. \n\n\u201cIn urban areas, small-scale urban agriculture sites can make a big difference in increasing access to fresh, healthy produce, preserving open space and beautifying neighborhoods,\u201d said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary (EEA) Matthew Beaton. \u201cThrough the Urban Agriculture Program, the Baker-Polito Administration is dedicated to supporting the growth and viability of food production in urban centers.\u201d\n\n\u201cI am so pleased that MDAR is able to award eight organizations with Urban Agriculture Program grants this year,\u201d said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. \u201cEach grant recipient has their own original way of increasing access to locally grown food with programs that will support mobile markets, new infrastructure or equipment for commercial food production.\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 neighborhoods, especially where vacant land or buildings are available and fresh food is hard to find. Previously funded projects have reached communities including Boston, Springfield, Lowell, Holyoke, Lawrence, Salem, and Somerville. \n\nThe successful demonstration of these projects has ranged from innovative markets, expanding production space, refurbishing production facilities and investments in market opportunities within low to moderate income communities.\n\nThe following projects received grants:\n\nWellspring Greenhouse, Springfield \u2013 $65,400\n\nWellspring will use its award to build a hydronic growing system, and purchase equipment and materials for their large-scale greenhouse. The grant will enable the company to increase its energy efficiency, enhance sales and create more economic opportunities in the Springfield community.\n\nUrban Farming Institute, Roxbury \u2013 $50,908\n\nUrban Farming Institute will use this funding to increase overall farm production with the purchase of small hand tools, amendments for soil health, refrigeration cooler, and pick-up truck for distribution purposes.\n\nGardening the Community, Springfield \u2013 $74,230\n\nGardening the Community will use this award for the construction of a permanent farm stand. The stand will create a new direct market in a low-income neighborhood and will be on the site for their Walnut St. Farm.\n\nNUBIA, Boston \u2013 $4,104\n\nNUBIA will use this funding to purchase a \u201cwalk behind\u201d tiller with snow attachment. This additional piece of equipment will be crucial for production prep and winter maintenance for this organization\u2019s growing number of production sites.\n\nUMass Lowell, Lowell \u2013 $71,808\n\nUMass Lowell will utilize its grant award for equipment, installation and tools for the final phase of their Urban Agriculture Innovation Site. The project is in partnership with a local urban farm that will be a model of sustainability and organic food production.\n\nVictory Program, Boston \u2013 $27,221\n\nThe Victory Program will use its award for their urban farm capacity building project, which includes greenhouse infrastructure, soil enhancement, and equipment for production efficiency. The overall project will help to increase produce production and commercial sales to the Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods.\n\nMill City Grows, Lowell \u2013 $36,934 \n\nMill City Grows will utilize its award for the purchase of several pieces of mobile equipment to help their staff manage and maintain multiple urban farm sites.\n\nRegional Environmental Council, Worcester \u2013 $12,474 \n\nThe Regional Environmental Council will utilize its grant to upgrade their current marketing and mobile market vehicle and add to the small scale tools in their commercial kitchen to diversify products for their markets. They will also pilot a packaged food program utilizing food grown on the YouthGROW urban farm.\n\n\u201cUrban agriculture plays a vital role throughout greater Lowell by assisting families struggling with food insecurity, promoting healthy dietary habits, and supporting our local economies,\u201d said State Senator Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell). \u201cThis grant funding will support UMass Lowell and Mill City Grows as they continue their important work in expanding urban farm sites and encouraging environmental sustainability. Congratulations to these two outstanding institutions for all they do for our community.\u201d\n\n\u201cMy congratulations to UMass Lowell and Mill City Grows for their respective grants that will allow them to build upon their innovative programs to produce healthy foods in a sustainable and accessible manner,\u201d said State Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr. (D-Lowell), Chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. \u201cThese grants are critical to spur the growth of urban food production and I thank the Baker-Polito administration, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beaton, and Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Lebeaux for their leadership on this program.\u201d \n\n\u201cCongratulations to both Mill City Grows and UMass Lowell for the tremendous change you are fostering by creating an urban agricultural garden where Lowell\u2019s residents can not only take part in farming but our children can see and learn the value of sustainable, environmentally proactive lifestyles,\u201d said State Representative Rady Mom (D-Lowell). \n\n\u201cUrban agriculture programs throughout the state highlight the commitment this administration has made to offering innovating and sustainable projects, and I commend the Department of Agricultural Resources\u00a0for their funding and support towards facilitating these partnerships with Mill City Grows and UMass Lowell,\u0022 said State Representative David Nangle (D-Lowell).