$300,000 Awarded to Boost Urban Agriculture in Boston
The Mayor’s Office of Housing announced a significant investment of more than $300,000 in funding aimed at bolstering urban agriculture and open space initiatives across Boston. This funding is dedicated to supporting community-led gardening, farming, and open space projects as part of the GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture’s Grassroots Program.
"Grassroots funding is a major step in promoting urban agriculture and community empowerment in Boston," said Sheila Dillon, Chief of Housing. "We invest in diverse projects like urban farms, community gardens, and open spaces, creating opportunities for education, sustainability, and neighborhood engagement. Through the Grassroots Program, the City transforms vacant lots into flourishing gardens which in turn foster community pride. This funding demonstrates this administration’s commitment to equitable access to healthy food and vibrant neighborhoods. We are proud to support these initiatives and anticipate their positive impact on our communities."
The Grassroots Program, an integral component of GrowBoston, seeks to actively engage community groups, promote sustainable agriculture practices, and enhance food security throughout Boston. By providing financial support and access to City-owned land, the program empowers local initiatives and strengthens the city's commitment to fostering a resilient and healthy community.
The recently announced funding will be allocated to the development of urban farms, community gardens, and other open spaces. The Roxbury, Dorchester, and East Boston neighborhoods will be the recipients of this year's capital improvement investments, with four deserving sites awarded the latest round of Grassroots funding. GrowBoston has selected Mass Liberation, The Guild, Eastie Farm, and Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation as the non-profit grantees. They will have one year to utilize the funds for these projects.
The non-profit grantees who received funding are:
- Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation has been awarded $100,000 in Grassroots funding to support capital improvements at the Oasis on Ballou community farm in Dorchester. This investment will facilitate the growth of healthy produce for the community and enhance gardening access and engagement for residents, student groups, and community stakeholders. The redevelopment project includes the creation of a new drainage system, an electric connection enclosure, and additional raised beds to be used throughout the farm.
- Mass Liberation will utilize $100,000 in funding for the development of overgrown and underutilized vacant land to establish the Harriet Tubman Freedom Park on Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury. The park will feature a vibrant garden and an accessible community space, providing a valuable gathering place for the community.
- The Guild has received $100,000 in Grassroots funding for the redevelopment of the Washington Street Urban Forest, a community park and urban forest. This project aims to stabilize and reforest the oak tree hillside, creating new pathways, plazas, and a four-season pavilion for lectures, educational activities, and art exhibits. The Guild also plans to include a movie wall, healing gardens, market kiosks, a safe sledding hill, and a canopy tree walk. The enhanced space will be equipped with benches, activity tables, and proper waste management facilities. The forest redevelopment project will help mitigate heat island effects and contribute to air cleansing in the Dorchester community, aligning with the USDA's recommendation to preserve 25 percent of city land area as urban forests.
- Eastie Farm will utilize more than $33,000 to install a living green fence at their farm located at 294 Sumner Street in East Boston. This installation will enhance food productivity, safety, and food access in East Boston. The capital improvements will benefit East Boston residents, including those who receive fresh produce through the Eastie Farm food program, individuals passing through the gardens on their way to school or work, and students participating in urban agriculture educational programs as they gain knowledge through fence farming.
"Good fences make good neighbors. Living fences, where grapes grow and flowers bloom, make better neighbors. With funds like this Grassroots grant that will help us grow a living fence in Eastie Farm's Sumner Street site, Grow Boston is helping us not only grow food, but also community," said Kannan Thiruvengadam, Executive Director of Eastie Farm. "We are thankful that the city government shares our values and supports community organizations like Eastie Farm."
"Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation's O.A.S.I.S on Ballou Avenue Urban Farm is excited to receive this award from the Grassroots Open Space Program,” said Apolo Catala, Farm Manager, O.A.S.I.S. On Ballou Avenue Urban Farm.” This funding will continue fueling our commitment to promoting individual, community, and environmental health by growing nutritious produce using sustainable organic practices and making that produce accessible within and beyond Codman Square, a neighborhood previously identified as a ‘cold spot’ for fresh and healthy choices. Thank you, Mayor Wu, the Grow Boston Team, and Boston Residents for supporting this vital work."
To ensure a fair and transparent selection process, the funding was made available through a competitive grant application process. Non-profit organizations with a vested interest in developing and maintaining gardens in Boston were invited to apply. Applicants were evaluated based on project sustainability, community impact, diversity and inclusion plans, and environmental considerations.
The selection of the Grassroots awardees aligns with Boston's vision for a resilient, healthy, and connected city, guaranteeing an equitable distribution of food resources across all neighborhoods. By focusing on diverse and innovative projects that reflect the unique character of each community, the Grassroots Program contributes to the city's overarching goal of cultivating vibrant and sustainable urban spaces.
About the GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture
In February 2022, Mayor Michelle Wu announced the creation of the GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture. GrowBoston is situated within the Mayor’s Office of Housing and works to increase food production throughout Boston; develop and implement innovative food production strategies; provide technical assistance to prospective and existing gardens and farms; develop food production resources for gardeners, farmers, and other residents; and coordinates with other City departments to expand citywide urban agriculture. GrowBoston also contributes to Boston’s efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change while addressing injustices inherent in the current food system. For more information, please visit the GrowBoston website.