Patrick Administration Awards Grants to Promote Massachusetts Urban Agriculture

BOSTON - Friday, February 28, 2014 - The Patrick Administration today launched one
of the nation's first state-funded urban farming initiatives, awarding $200,000 in
grants  for urban farm pilot projects in Boston, Everett, Lawrence, Lowell,
Somerville, Springfield and Worcester.

 "Urban agriculture is an important, developing component of the Massachusetts food
system," said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan.  "It
can revitalize blighted neighborhoods, improve public health, promote local
businesses, engage youth and provide all Massachusetts residents with access to
fresh, nutritious food."

"In Massachusetts, we produce 5 to 10 percent of the food we consume and are
dependent on climate change-vulnerable areas like California for the rest," said DAR
Commissioner Greg Watson. "When paired with the trend of most Americans living in
urban areas, supporting active commercial agriculture in our cities is a strong step
in strengthening our food security."

Administered by the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR), the Urban
Agricultural Program grants will encourage and help facilitate more cities to grow
their own food. The program will address some of the challenges facing urban
farmers, such as suitable land, confined space, limited sunlight, nutrient-poor
soils, high start-up costs, restrictive zoning rules and lack of farming experience
and business training.

The program is also designed to build community partnerships, increase access to
fresh, nutritious food for urban residents at risk for diet-related chronic diseases
and promote viable farming methods and local initiatives that other cities can
replicate and benefit from.

Municipalities, non-profit organizations and other governmental entities are
eligible to apply for grants in the range of $5,000 to $40,000 with preference for
projects that attract multiple partners and funding sources.

"These grants encourage citizens of the Commonwealth to take control of their food
sources and promote a sense of community in cities," said Senator Marc R. Pacheco,
Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and
Agriculture. "It's great to see the Administration support citizens working together
to get a hands on understanding of public health and nutrition, while they also
become better informed about our farming system."'

"Growing up in Somerville, urban agriculture was simply neighbors sharing some of
their prized tomatoes or freshly grown basil. Supporting urban agriculture today is
a return to those roots," said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. "South Street Farm is
Somerville's first urban farm and one of many to come. Somerville has been at the
forefront of the sustainability movement, of healthy living and reversing the trend
of childhood obesity and we thank the state for supporting these efforts. This is
about more than a community garden. It is about fresh, healthy food production that
fits in an urban environment and helps our residents control where their food comes
from and how it's produced. The school greenhouse will also support the interactive
learning that we strive for in Somerville, help make the healthy choice the easy
choice for our children and make even more fresh produce available for our
residents."

The grants announced today will support the following projects:

Grant Recipient: City of Somerville
Award Amount: $36,877
Project: This project will support the construction of a new raised bed and
greenhouse structure at the established and urban South Street Farm, as well as the
installation of a new hydroponics growing system at Somerville's Edgerly School. The
school's greenhouse will support hands-on classroom learning and supply locally
grown greens to the City's mobile farmer's market. Project partners include
Groundwork Somerville, Stem Garden Institute, Shape-Up Somerville and the Somerville
Public School System.

Grant Recipient: City of Everett
Award Amount: $5,000
Project:  Everett will launch a citywide Urban Agriculture rezoning initiative that
includes, identifying appropriate land for urban farm sites, developing zoning
amendments to allow for commercial agriculture and community education and outreach
to engage citizens.

Grant Recipient: The Food Project, Boston - Boston-
Award Amount: $27,789
Project: The Food Project and Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) will
conduct a cost analysis of the Food Project's urban and suburban farm tracts,
install an overhead irrigation system at the DSNI greenhouse, underwrite extension
school training for greenhouse staff and student volunteers to help increase tomato
yields and launch a Dudley neighborhood community food action planning process.

Grant Recipient: Gardening the Community - Springfield
Award Amount: $15,611
Project: Gardening the Community (GTC) will conduct soil nutrient assessment of two
farm plots, purchase and construct protective structures for temperature-sensitive
crops, to establish a more visible neighborhood farm stand and for multi-lingual
marketing materials.

Grant Recipient: Groundwork Lawrence, Inc, - Lawrence
Award Amount: $19,053
Project: Groundwork Lawrence (GWL) will expand its growing space at Costello Park
including installation of a greenhouse and cold frame structure. The improvements
will enable the Green Team to cultivate herb and vegetable seedlings for their use
and sale to GWL's 350 member community gardening network and increase the produce
supplied to neighborhood farmers' markets.

Grant Recipient: Mill City Grows - Lowell
Award Amount: $20,000
Project: Mill City Grows (MCG) will retrofit a bus to be used as a mobile market
truck, create marketing and educational materials, and purchase iPads, EBT machines
and tracking software to accept WIC and SNAP electronic payments. These investments
will allow implementation of a full-service mobile market in June 2014 and increase
the availability of affordable and fresh local food in neighborhoods remote from
grocery stores and Lowell's sole stationary farmers' market.

Grant Recipient: Urban Farming Institute (UFI) & Tufts University's New Entry
Sustainable Farmers Project Partnership - Boston
Award Amount: $30,000
Project: UFI, in partnership with Tufts University's New Entry Sustainable Farmers
Project, will develop and implement a model curriculum and field training program
for residents of low-income Boston neighborhoods focusing on small plot urban
farming.  The program's goal is to recruit and train a new cohort of urban farmers 
who can establish successful farm operations and agricultural processing businesses.
The Kendall, Citizens Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Eos
foundations have committed a total of $130,000 in matching funds.

Grant Recipient: Regional Environmental Council - Worcester
Award Amount: $10,170
Project: The Regional Environmental Council (REC) will purchase computer software
and hardware that will enable the mobile market to track and process EBT and SNAP
market sales and allow Worcester restaurants, grocery stores and other institutional
buyers to source from farm vendors.  Harvard Pilgrim, Massachusetts Department of
Public Health, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farmers' Market
Promotion Program and USDA Commodity Food project have together pledged $467,410 to
support the project.

Grant Recipient: Suffolk County Conservation District (SCCD) in association with
City Soil & Greenhouse LLC- Boston
Award Amount: $35,000
Project: City Soil and the Suffolk County Conservation District (SCCD) are working
to demonstrate an innovative compost and heat-capture technology at an existing
commercial composting site in Roslindale.  If successful, the system could provide
affordable, high quality compost for the City's urban farmers. The funding will be
used to permit and construct an Aerated Static Pile facility for converting food
waste to compost, from which heated carbon dioxide-enriched air is captured and
pumped into an adjacent greenhouse.

Today's announcement builds on the Patrick Administration's commitment to open space
in urban communities. Since 2007, 170 parks have been created or renovated, within a
ten minute walk of 1.5 million residents, about a quarter of the Commonwealth's
residents.

[cid:image002.jpg@01CF3495.7F89C320]DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term
viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural
Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop
and Pest Services - DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity
of the Commonwealth's agricultural community to promote economically and
environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill
agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information,
visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr<http://www.mass.gov/agr>, and/or follow at
twitter.com/mdarcommish.

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