Providence Receives National Grant to Expand Urban Farming Initiative

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Angel Taveras today announced that the City’s Office of Sustainability has won $110,000 in grants from the Local Sustainability Matching Fund and the Rhode Island Foundation to expand its Lots of Hope urban farming initiative.

A $55,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation triggered an identical grant from the Local Sustainability Matching Fund. The grants will be used to build an urban greenhouse that will extend the growing season for local urban farmers, help foster micro-businesses and serve Providence students. The pilot greenhouse project is a partnership between the City of Providence’s Office of Sustainability and Healthy Communities Office, the Providence School Department’s Rekindling the Dream Foundation and the Rhode Island Foundation.

This partnership builds off of Providence’s Lots of Hope initiative which was launched last year in partnership with the Rhode Island Foundation to turn vacant, city-owned property into productive urban farms and bring fresh produce to neighborhoods. The program aims to expand Providence’s portfolio of green, open space and contribute to improvements in air quality, public health and local property values.

In the latest phase, low-cost leases to farmers using the greenhouse will support new or socially disadvantaged farmers, foster agriculture business development and link locally grown food with school food service purchasing. The greenhouse will also provide opportunities for school garden-based curriculum integration to include a composting pilot where students can learn about local food systems and reducing solid waste.

“I thank the Local Sustainability Matching Fund and the Rhode Island Foundation for their commitment to helping us make Providence one of the greenest cities in the nation,” said Mayor Taveras. “Lots of Hope is putting our vacant spaces to productive use to invest in a more sustainable and healthy city for years to come.”

Last year, the city created the first Lots of Hope farm at the Manton Bend Community Farm which is now maintained by the African Alliance of Rhode Island. A second Lots of Hope farm opened this year at the Meader Street Farm on the City’s West Side.

“We invest in a statewide sustainable food system and support efforts such as the Rhode Island Food Policy Council. Through Lots of Hope, we will continue to advance a healthy and resilient local food system in the Capital City, which can serve as a model for the state and beyond,” said Jenny Pereira, the Foundation’s programs officer for the Environment sector.

“Lots of Hope helps Providence achieve all of our sustainability goals by supporting local businesses, cleaning our neighborhoods, and helping our students better understand where our food comes from and where our trash goes,” said Sheila Dormody, Director of Sustainability for the City of Providence. “Everyone in Providence wins when we get to protect the environment, invest in our local economy, and create a stronger community all through one project.”

“We are looking forward to working with our community partners to use the Lots of Hope Urban Greenhouse to create a model of best practices for extending the growing season in Providence,” said Peter Asen, Director of the Providence Healthy Communities Office. “The greenhouse will help make local, healthy foods available throughout the year.”

The $55,000 matching grant was awarded by the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and its partner, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, as part of the Local Sustainability Matching Fund. The Fund is designed to connect innovative city sustainability projects with local philanthropies.

“It’s at the local level where sustainability initiatives have the greatest traction and where growth capital is most needed,” said Sharon Alpert, Senior Director of Programs and Strategy at the Surdna Foundation, an investor in the Local Sustainability Matching Fund. “Local municipalities are leading the way in combining sustainability with practicality.”

This is the second grant that Providence’s Lots of Hope has received from the Local Sustainability Matching Fund and was matched by the Rhode Island Foundation. In all, nine communities across the country were awarded a total of $531,250 by the Local Sustainability Matching Fund.

About the Rhode Island Foundation

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2013, the Foundation made grants of more than $31 million to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grant making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit www.rifoundation.org.

 

About the Local Sustainability Matching Fund

The Local Sustainability Matching Fund is a project of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, in partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. The Fund is supported with leadership grants from Bloomberg Philanthropies, The JPB Foundation, Kendeda Fund, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The New York Community Trust, Summit Foundation, and Surdna Foundation. The Fund is designed to catalyze partnerships between local governments and local, place-based foundations and to advance community-based sustainability initiative.

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