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星期三, 9月 28, 2016

Baker-Polito Administration Awards $350,000 to Urban Agriculture Projects

Baker-Polito Administration Awards $350,000 to Urban Agriculture Projects

BOSTON – September 28, 2016 – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced over $350,000 in grantsthrough the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ (MDAR) Urban Agriculture Program to support the growth of the emergent urban agriculture sector and provide city residents access to fresh food. The purpose of MDAR’s Urban Agriculture Program, funded by the 2014 Massachusetts Five-Year Capital Plan, is to advance policies, leverage collective resources and support commercial projects designed to increase the production, processing, and marketing of produce grown in urban centers across the Commonwealth.

“Our administration recognizes the impact farming entrepreneurs make in our cities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The recipients of Urban Agriculture Program funding continue to create opportunities for local economic impact through food production, as they increase ready access to nutritious food for their communities.”

“A priority of our administration is to increase access to fresh, nutritious food in underserved urban communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The communities and entrepreneurs receiving these grants are at the forefront of this effort and are providing opportunities for economic impact and youth engagement while encouraging healthier local food systems.”

MDAR launched an Urban Agriculture Program to support the emerging urban agriculture sector in early 2014. As of today, the Urban Agriculture Program has released four rounds of funding which have provided support for 41 urban agriculture projects and facilitated four state-wide urban agriculture conferences, attracting hundreds of practitioners, advocates, and policy makers.

“Investing in the cultivation of fresh food in urban settings provides opportunities for job training and youth engagement,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton.  “Through the Urban Agriculture Program, the Baker-Polito Administration will continue to promote opportunities for healthier local food systems in more communities across the Commonwealth.”

“I am proud of the Urban Agriculture Program at MDAR, as it has helped to strengthen local neighborhoods by leveraging opportunities through the production, processing, marketing and sale of fresh food at the local level,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux.

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 fresh food is hard to find.  Past funded projects have reached communities including Holyoke, Springfield, Lowell, Lawrence, Salem, Boston and Somerville.

The successful demonstration of these projects has ranged from expanding production space, creation of innovative aquaponics and hydroponics facilities and investment in market opportunities within under-served communities.

The current awardees’ listing is as follows:

CommonWealth Kitchen, Dorchester, MA - $70,000
CommonWealth Kitchen will use the grant funding to purchase specialized manufacturing equipment needed to improve our ability to affordably and efficiently provide small-batch, value added production services for local urban farms. The equipment will also expand their capacity to take larger processing work focused on farm-to-school and farm-to-institution initiatives.

The Food Project, Dorchester, MA - $56,385
The Food Project will use the grant funding to perform necessary repairs and refurbishments to the Dudley Greenhouse, the anchor of their operations. The refurbishment will extend the list of the greenhouse, generate more revenue, improve energy efficiency and contribute to greater fertile vegetable production.

Gardening the Community, Springfield, MA - $55,000
Gardening the Community will use the grant funding to continue the transformation of the first community-controlled urban agriculture site in Springfield. This is phase two of infrastructure improvements, which include soil regeneration, an irrigation system and its instillation. The investment will add to the permanent farm site designed to provide locally grown produce directly to low income urban residents.

NUBIA, Roxbury, MA - $7,540
NUBIA will use the grant funding to acquire a walk-in storage cooler to use for their fresh produce.  As the organization has grown and their commercial food production has increased, this additional infrastructure will be key to keeping their produce at the highest quality.

Shape Up Somerville, Somerville, MA - $23,656
Shape-Up Somerville will use the grant funding to implement the next phase of “ARTFarm”,    a 2.2 acre former waste transfer station that is in the midst of being transformed into Somerville’s community art and commercial urban growing center. The grant will be used to purchase outdoor walk-in cooler, materials for a 50’ X 20’ raised bed, as well as the instillation of both.

Urban Farming Institute, Dorchester MA - $12,733
The Urban Farming Institute will use the grant funding to upgrade their tools and purchase equipment to increase the productivity on their farms. Their urban farmers will also teach trainees how to use equipment and become more efficient in their farming practice.

New Entry Sustainable Farm Project, Lowell, MA - $30,016
New Entry will use their grant funding to purchase Food Hub Aggregation and distribution management software re-usable crates and ice packs for their produce distribution and packing needs as well as marketing materials. The equipment and infrastructure improvements are projected to increase CSA participation by 20% in food insecure communities on the North Shore.

UMass Lowell, Lowell, MA - $40,000
UMass Lowell, in partnership with Mill City Grows, will use the grant funding to invest in capital infrastructure with the purchase and installation of commercial greenhouse.  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.

Haley House, Roxbury, MA - $19,600
Haley House will use the grant funding to improve the production space of the Thornton Street farm with additional soil and drip irrigation infrastructure, purchase and utilize low tunnels for season extension and will farm equipment. This award will also be used for the removal of several large invasive trees to increase productive growing space on the farm. 

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), Boston, MA - $35,500
TPL will use the grant funding to acquire a pre-fabricated greenhouse, a perimeter fence, as well as the installation of the perimeter fence and greenhouse. The addition of the Greenhouse will increase agricultural production and enable a more efficient supply to the significant demand of locally grown food through TPL’s partnership with the Urban Farming Institute.

“Our non-profits and institutions of learning provide our residents with access to healthy food, stimulate our local economy with farmers’ markets, and create innovative solutions to the agricultural challenges facing our Commonwealth,” stated Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr. (D-Lowell), Chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy.  “I thank the administration for their support and congratulate the New Entry Sustainable Farm Project and UMass Lowell, in partnership with Mill City Grows, not only for their accomplishments to date, but also for the great work they will continue to do to nourish our communities.”

“These urban agriculture grants will support key initiatives that will provide fresh and organic products to families facing food insecurity in urban areas throughout the Commonwealth,” said State Senator Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell). “Promoting nutritional health is an essential tool in reducing health related issues, such as obesity and diabetes, while also reinforcing a hearty lifestyle. I would like to congratulate the New Entry Sustainable Farm Project and the University of Massachusetts Lowell for being awarded funding to encourage food sustainability throughout the City of Lowell.”

“Get out your broccoli recipes, Boston!” said State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston). “In all seriousness, 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. When we invest in urban agriculture, we provide many Massachusetts citizens a sustainable, innovative pathway to nourishment – regardless of location or socioeconomic status.”

MDAR’s goals have been to increase and sustain the capacity of urban agriculture to provide tangible, measurable benefits to residents in urban centers which include:  increased access to healthy fresh food, improved public health, entrepreneurial opportunities, job training & youth employment, and community revitalization.