Mayor Walsh announces funding to support urban farming re-entry jobs
May 11, 2016
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced $100,000 in funding for an innovative urban agriculture re-entry jobs training program. The Urban Farming Pathways Initiative will create approximately 25 green jobs and provide local healthy food for underserved communities.
"In Boston we believe in second chances, and this grant will give young people in our community a unique skill set that will allow them to pursue meaning careers that positively impact our neighborhoods," said Mayor Walsh.
The Urban Farming Pathways Initiative will be housed on a city-owned parcel in either Dorchester or Roxbury. During the program's first year, 25 participants will be trained in urban agriculture practices and will grow and distribute 5,000 pounds of healthy produce to 1,000 residents through five farmers' markets in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan. Pending a successful first year, the program aims to create a long-term partnership between re-entry workforce development, sustainable urban agriculture and increased food access to jointly address the missions of all partnering organizations.
"This funding follows through on a promise made in the Mayor's 2014 Climate Action Plan that our goals must be met through cross-cutting and collective action," said Austin Blackmon, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space. "The partnership behind this announcement showcases that we can pursue an equitable and sustainable future through workforce training, economic development, and food affordability."
Youth Options Unlimited Boston (YOU) will house a program coordinator to oversee the initiative and work with City Soil, the Urban Farming Institute and other community partners to develop programming. YOU works with Boston's youth and young adults ages 14 to 24 and specializes in serving young people from neighborhoods with the highest level of poverty and violence, and those reentering the community from incarceration.
Partners for Places, a project of the Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, awarded half of the funds, which were matched through a contribution by The Boston Foundation. The program will cost approximately $320,000, with the opportunity to re-apply for a second round of funding after the first year. Additional costs will be covered in full by the Neighborhood Jobs Trust and the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
"The City of Boston is fortunate to have stellar job training partners, educators, and employers to create ladders of opportunity for all Bostonians," said Trinh Nguyen, director of the Office of Workforce Development."Green industry is growing in Boston, and the Urban Farming Pathways Initiative is yet another pipeline that demonstrates this commitment to ensure that all residents are able to take part of the growth."
"The Boston Foundation is pleased to partner with the City of Boston and a national funder like Partners for Places on this important issue," said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the foundation. "Sustainability is crucial to workforce development in general, particularly the development of inner city jobs. In fostering a strengthened and green-thinking workforce, this program drives home the point that the responsibility of sustainable development is shared by everyone in our community."
"From helping low-income households benefit from solar energy to preparing coastal cities for climate change, Partners for Places brings together city officials with funders to develop some really dynamic sustainability projects," said Arturo Garcia-Costas, the New York Community Trust's program officer for the environment and Partners for Places selection committee member. "This kind of collaboration can form the lasting relationships that help create vibrant, thriving communities."