BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $40,300 in grants to three urban agriculture projects in Lowell and Lawrence. The funding continues the Administration’s support for an emerging urban agriculture sector and a commitment to ensure city residents have access to fresh food.
“The 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,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Innovative urban agriculture projects create healthier local food systems and help spur local economic development in communities across the Commonwealth.”
“Urban agriculture projects can bring a neighborhood closer together, increase access to fresh produce, provide jobs, and educate residents on nutrition and local agriculture,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These 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.”
The 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.
“Growing 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,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Through the Urban Agriculture Program, we are proud to support these projects on the forefront of an exciting agricultural movement.”
“These Urban Agriculture grants continue the Commonwealth’s commitment to support all elements of Massachusetts Agriculture,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “The three awards will allow the recipients to expand their food production and distribution capacities, and simultaneously provide additional tangible benefits to urban 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 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.
The following projects received grants:
Groundwork Lawrence (GWL), Lawrence – $8,775
Groundwork Lawrence’s 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’s operations. Multiple improvements have been made due to grants from MDAR’s Urban Agriculture Program, increasing GWL’s capacity to grow, store and sell produce to low to moderate income communities in Lawrence.
New Entry Sustainable Farm Project, Lowell – $8,825
New 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.
UMass Lowell, Lowell – $22,700
In partnership with Mill City Grows, UMass Lowell will utilize their award to purchase an 8mm polycarbonate shell for UMASS Lowell’s 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.
“The need for urban farming practices and capacity will only continue to grow, and so it’s great to see investment in urban farming in a gateway city like Lawrence,” said State Senator Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover). “Thanks to this grant and Groundwork Lawrence’s excellent work in the community, access to healthy food grown right in the community will increase for Lawrence residents – of all income levels.”
“Groundwork Lawrence has, for nearly two decades, empowered residents of the City of Lawrence to improve their quality of life,” said State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen). “Among 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.”
“I’m always happy to see state funds being directed toward the greater Lawrence community,” said State Representative Frank Moran (D-Lawrence). “I am especially excited by this grant through MDAR’s 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.”
“Groundwork Lawrence has been an invaluable asset to our community,” said State Representative Juana Matias (D-Lawrence). “GWL’s 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’s work in the city of Lawrence will continue to expand.”
MDAR’s 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.
—Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
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