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.